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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Competitive state Senate districts are drawing millions in campaign cash



The post-session campaign finance reports are in and, no surprise, the most expensive contests are shaping up to be in steamy South Florida. Here's our list of the top money-raising state Senate contests. (The total raised for the district includes individual Senate campaigns and political committee cash on hand this cycle.)

1. $1,209,963 District 39 Miami

The shifting political sands in Miami have made it a dicey place for Republicans in the wake of redistricting but Republican Sen. Anitere Flores has fortified her campaign with lots and lots of cash -- at least $743,002 to date in fact -- against Democrat Andrew Korge, son of one of South Florida's most successful fundraising moguls, Chris Korge

Flores' fundraising haul included $124,275 for March. The race may be the most expensive in Florida but Korge is keeping it competitive -- raising $220,750 for his individual Senate committee, including $16,472 for March and has more than $246,211 in cash on hand in his PAC.

2. $1,098,886 District 34 Broward

The Fort Lauderdale battle to replace Sen. Eleanor Sobel is, predictably, pricey as lawyers Gary Farmer and Jim Waldman, a former state representative, battle it out against retired educator Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed. Farmer has raised the most with $503,755, including $207,000 from his lawyer-financed political committee. He has also given himself a $103,000 loan. Waldman has raised $368,230 with $132,500 on hand from his political committee. He has given himself a $202,500 loan. Clarke-Reed has raised $15,100.

3. $902,304 District 23 Sarasota

 The high stakes Sarasota seat promises to be a fierce fight with Reps. Greg Steube and Ray Pilon wrestling for the GOP nomination against former Rep. Doug Holder. Holder has the edge over Steube having raised $206,800 and has $135,000 in cash available in his PAC while Steube raised $230,0205 and has $54,298 remaining in his longer-running PAC. Republican Nora Patterson, the former Sarasota County commissioner has raised $100,787 in cash and loaned herself another $60,000. Only Steube and Holder have political committees.

4. $757,692 District 13 Orlando

The battle to replace Andy Gardiner in the newly-drawn Orlando-based swing district promises to be one of the most expensive in Central Florida. Realtor Dean Asher has raised nearly $413,000 to date, with half of it coming from realtors to his political committee. In the Democratic primary, former state representative Mike Clelland has raised the most with $165,780 coming into his Senate committee and $92,000 in his PAC. He faces Democrats Linda Stewart ($17,208) and Rick Roach ($69,841).

5. $619,385 District 17 Melbourne

The Melbourne-based district makes the list by the sheer force of the fundraising heft of former House Rules Chairman Ritch Workman. He has $322,485 on hand in his political committee and has raised $273,000 for his individual Senate campaign. Rep. Debbie Mayfield faces Workman in the Republican primary and she has raised $16,265.


In District 2 in the Panhandle, Bay County Commissioner and car dealer George Gainer loaned himself $500,000 and raised another $206,255 to give himself a substantial lead in fundraising when he thought he was going to face Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Shalimar. But with Gaetz jumping into the District 1 congressional seat and Gainer facing no other opponent, will his total change? He could withdraw his loan or continue to make the case that he's not beholden to special interests.

It's also worth noting that if outgoing Republican House Leader Dana Young had a challenger for Tampa-based Senate District 18, her race would be among the most expensive. Instead, Young remains unchallenged with a hefty campaign fund of $789,000 to spread around and make many friends. 

Note: This post has been updated and corrected. 

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 4:29pm]


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