A look at latest Fla legislative fundraising reports
News Service of Florida: With districts redrawnand qualifying over, new campaign-finance reports offer a roadmap formany of this year's top political races in Florida.
Large chunks of money flowed during the past three months to House,Senate and Supreme Court candidates who are trying to win high-profilecampaigns or capture empty seats.
A prime example is former Senate President Tom Lee, a Brandon Republicanwho collected $199,585 in contributions as he tries to return to theSenate in District 24. Lee's is locked in a primary campaign against Rep.Rachel Burgin, R-Riverview, as they seek to replace Sen. Ronda Storms,who made a surprise announcement in May that she would not seekre-election.
Burgin raised $50,248 during the year's second quarter and, combined withmoney she raised before Storms' announcement, has an overall total of$122,223. Candidates faced a Friday deadline for filing updatedcampaign-finance reports.
Another example is a South Florida Senate race that pits two incumbentswhose districts were redrawn as part of the once-a-decade reapportionmentprocess. Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, reported raising$106,196 during the quarter, giving her an overall total of$366,767.
An updated report for Democratic candidate Maria Sachs of Boca Raton hadnot been posted on the state Division of Elections website as of Fridayafternoon. Both parties are targeting the race in Senate District 34,which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.
The large infusions of campaign cash, however, went beyond theLegislature. Supreme Court Justice Barbara Pariente reported raising$157,957 during the quarter, giving her a total of $316,130. Similarly,Justice R. Fred Lewis reported collecting $141,372 during the quarter,giving him an overall total of $303,010.
Pariente, Lewis and Justice Peggy Quince are trying to winmerit-retention elections this fall. While those elections typicallyreceive little attention, some conservative groups are trying to knockoff Lewis, Pariente and Quince because of complaints that they are tooliberal. Quince's report had not been posted Friday afternoon.
The reports due Friday are the first batch since courts resolvedquestions about new legislative districts and candidates formallyqualified. They also come as candidates ramp up their campaigns beforethe Aug. 12 primary elections.
Large amounts of money flowed to heavily contested races in both theHouse and the Senate.
Among the largest House fund-raisers, for instance, was Rep. Ronald "Doc"Renuart, a Ponte Vedra Beach Republican who is running in the newly drawnDistrict 17 in St. Johns County. Renuart reported collecting $90,856during the second quarter, giving him an overall total of $155,132 forthe campaign.
St. Augustine Republican Mike Davis, who has received support fromterm-limited St. Augustine Rep. Bill Proctor, raised $32,526 during thequarter, increasing his total to $91,086. Another St. AugustineRepublican, Kim Kendall, raised $6,050 during the quarter and has a totalof $49,973.
In a hard-fought Senate District 22 primary in the Tampa Bay area,meanwhile, Rep. Jim Frishe, R-St. Petersburg, raised $71,932 during thequarter, giving him an overall total of $246,696. Frishe faces Rep. JeffBrandes, who earlier this week reported raising $68,450 during the secondquarter. Brandes also has loaned $500,000 to his campaign.
Up the Interstate 4 corridor, Democratic Rep. Darren Soto of Orlandoraised $62,736 during the quarter, giving him a total of $94,386 in hisrace for Senate District 14, which does not have an incumbent. Republicancandidate Will McBride of Orlando reported raising $42,487 but alsoloaned his campaign $205,000.
Still further up I-4 in a key Senate battleground, Republican Rep.Dorothy Hukill, R-Port Orange, topped Democrat Frank Bruno infund-raising in District 8. Hukill brought in $45,856 and increased heroverall total to $278,010, according to the records. Bruno, chairman ofthe Volusia County Council, raised $30,405 during the quarter and has atotal of $207,073.
But not all of the biggest recipients of contributions during the pastthree months face tough election fights. Incoming Senate President DonGaetz, R-Niceville, does not have a Democratic opponent this year, but hereceived $160,090 during the quarter. That brought his overall total to$632,350.