How much does it cost to buy a statewide election in Florida? About $83 a vote
Looking at Florida's primary results Tuesday, one might be tempted to think one clear takeaway is that candidates who spend a lot of their own money to win elections usually lose. Certainly that's what happened to Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff against Marco Rubio, to former Democratic congressional candidate and former Florida Democratic Chairman Bob Poe in the Orlando area, and Democratic state Senate candidates Augie Ribeiro of St. Petersburg, Irv Slosberg of Boca Raton, and Andrew Korge of Miami-Dade.
But this is the state where Rick Scott spent nearly $75 million to barely defeat Alex Sink in 2010, so don't underestimate to power of deep-pocketed candidates.
Fellow Naples resident and longtime GOP fundraiser Francis Rooney didn't. Rooney spent more than $3.1 of his own money to win the Republican primary for southwest Florida's Congressional District 19, so he will likely succeed Curt Clawson, who spent about $4-million of his own money to win that seat in a special election in 2014.
At least for statewide races, the lesson for self-funding candidate may simply be this: Go huge or go home.
Beruff's $8.3 million investment amounted to roughly $31.40 for every vote he received. Gov. Scott in 2010 spent $50 million to beat former Attorney General Bill MccCollum in the Republican primary - about $83.35 per vote Scott received. But that same year billionaire investor Jeff Greene of Palm Beach spent nearly $24 million of his own money -- about $83.52 per vote --- and lost his Democratic U.S. Senate primary overwhelmingly to Kendrick Meek.
Prior to that, Florida's top self-funder had been Republican newcomer Doug Gallagher who in 2004 dropped $6.3-million on his Republican U.S. Senate primary where he won less than 14 percent of the vote. That's about $39.80 per vote.
So buck up, Carlos Beruff. You got a great deal on your unsuccessful campaign.