If dollars were votes, most of the local races on the Aug. 24 primary ballots might be over, as most races for the Manatee County commission or school board have a candidate collecting as much as 10 times more than their next-best funded rival.
The Manatee County elections office this week posted on its website the latest campaign finance reports from candidates in the local races. The reports cover fund-raising and spending from April 1 to July 16.
For a detailed look at who is contributing to the candidates and how they are spending the money, go here.
And remember that in an election, it's votes, not dollars, that determine the winner.
Manatee County Commission, District 2
Incumbent Democrat Gwen Brown has raised almost $56,000, and spent more than $18,000. Her Democratic challenger, Michael Gallen, has raised more than $15,000 and spent almost $4,000. No Republican is running in the race.
Manatee County Commission, District 4
Republican Robin DiSabatino continued her fund-raising prowess during the second quarter of the year, bringing her total to more than $115,000 in cash and in-kind contributions. She had spent more than $62,000 - about five times the amount spent by the three other candidates in the race combined.
The next most successful fund-raiser in the race, Norm Luppino, has raised more than $15,800 -- barely a tenth of what DiSabatino has raised -- and spent more than $8,900. The third Republican in the race, Tim Norwood, has raised almost $2,200 and spent more $1,700.
The winner of the Aug. 24 primary will face Democrat Roger C. Galle in the Nov. 2 general election. As of June 30, he had raised more than $3,200 and spent more than $1,700.
Manatee County Commission, District 6 (at-large)
Neither Republican incumbent Carol Whitmore nor Democratic challenger Sundae Lynn Knight has to worry about the primary, as they are set to face off in the general election. But already Whitmore has a huge financial advantage, raising almost $68,000 and spending almost $42,000.
Knight has raised more than $2,200 and spent less than a $1,000.
Manatee School Board, District 1
The financial disparities in two of the three school board races are less pronounced than for the county commission.
In District 1, incumbent Barbara Harvey has raised more than $6,100 and spent almost $5,300. Challenger David Bailey has raised more than $5,900 and spent almost $4,000.
Manatee School Board, District 3
Julie Aranibar has collected the bulk of the contributions in this race, raising more than $23,300 and spending almost $21,600.
Incumbent Jane Pfeilsticker has raised more than $6,700 and spent almost $3,300.
The third candidate in the race, Albert Yusko, has raised almost $3,900 and spent more than $3,700.
Manatee School Board, District 5
Financially, this may be the most competitive race in the county this year, with the two candidates raising and spending almost identical totals.
Karen Carpenter has raised more than $5,900 and spent more than $4,900.
Jennifer Radebach has raised more than $5,700 and spent almost $5,200.