Money wins elections -- not always, but often. And in the hotly-contested District 16 state Senate race in Pinellas and Hillsborough, Rep. Kim Berfield of Clearwater has taken a commanding lead.
Berfield raised $54,000 in the second quarter and spent about $24,000, giving her a cash balance of $346,000. Her Republican primary opponent, Rep. Frank Farkas, R-St. Petersburg, raised $25K and spent $23K, leaving him with $203,000 in the bank.
Berfield benefited from a heavy cash transfusion from the WellCare managed-care empire (12 checks, $6,000) as well as a batch of checks from the Jacksonville-based Fidelity insurance and financial services companies (11 checks, $5,500). Other Berfield donors included Tallahassee lobbyist Margaret "Missy" Timmins; the Florida Hospital Association PAC; TECO Energy; and Ray Bellamy, the Tallahassee doctor who led a successful effort last year to block creation of a chiropractic school at FSU.
Rep. Charlie Justice, the St. Pete Democrat who will face either Berfield or Farkas in November, also had a very solid quarter, but he still has a long way to go. Justice raised$56,000 and spent about $29,000, leaving him with $73,000 on hand.