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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

$170 per vote and still not a winner: Self-funded primary candidates didn't fare well



Tuesday night's primary election was not kind to candidates who pumped hundreds of thousands of their own money into their races.

The 10 state legislative candidates with the most personal cash on the line Tuesday together spent $4.36 million on primary races -- and just two look like they're going to win.

State Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, won her state Senate primary against Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne. Workman had many Tallahassee special intersts behind him, while Mayfield cashed out assets to fund a bid for higher office.

In a three-way Republican primary for a Central Florida Senate seat, Rep. Dennis Baxley, R-Ocala, held a 700-vote lead at midnight against Rep. Marlene O'Toole, R-Lady Lake, and another self-funder from The Villages, David Gee. That's a 1-point margin, just enough to be outside the bounds of a recount.

This result was expected. The Times/Herald reported last week that it's becoming increasingly common for candidates to spend more and more personal money on their races, even though they rarely win. In 2008, just three of nine candidates who gave their campaigns $100,000 or more were elected to office.

And the rest? Well, Rep. Irv Slosberg, D-Boca Raton, spent more than $170 on each of 11,000 votes and still failed to unseat Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth. Asked before the election if his investment would be worth it even if he lost, Slosberg, all confidence, insisted, "I'm going to win."

Here's how these self-financers did and how much they spent on each vote. (Note: We've excluded George Gainer, who will take a Senate seat in the Panhandle unopposed after loaning his campaign $500,000 and scaring off any competition.)

1. Slosberg, SD 31 in Palm Beach County: Lost, $1.88 million ($170.15 per vote).

2. Jason Pizzo, D-Miami, SD 38 in Miami-Dade County: Lost, $770,000 ($111.98 per vote).

3. Michael Steinger, D-West Palm Beach, SD 30 in Palm Beach County: Lost, $665,170 ($64.60 per vote).

4. Augie Ribeiro, D-St. Petersburg, SD 19 in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties: Lost, $514,000 ($65.31 per vote).

5. Mayfield, SD 17 in Brevard and Indian River counties: Won, $501,050 ($21.36 per vote).

6. Baxley, SD 12 in Lake, Sumter and Marion counties: Apparent winner, $360,000 ($15.03 per vote).

7. Gee, SD 12: Lost, $310,000 ($18.24 per vote).

8. Brian Hodgers, R-Melbourne, HD 52 in Brevard County: Lost, $240,400 ($50.75 per vote).

9. Wenda Lewis, R-Alachua, HD 21 in Alachua, Gilchrist and Dixie counties: Lost, $205,392 ($49.08 per vote).

10. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, SD 34 in Broward County: Lost, $202,500 ($25.01 per vote).

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 9:03am]


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