Tampa's Janet Cruz and Dana Young state Senate race was probably the costliest race for a state legislative seat in Florida history, more than $12 million.
An exact figure isn't possible, however, because campaign finance laws don't require political parties and interest groups to reveal how much money they put into individual races and where the money comes from.
Christian Ulvert, a veteran Democratic strategist and adviser to the Cruz campaign, estimated that Young, the state Republican Party and her independent political committee, Friends of Dana Young, spent $7 million or more for her re-election effort.
Cruz's campaign, the Democratic Party and her independent political committee, Building the Bay, spent around $5 million to unseat Young.
A manual recount made Cruz the winner by 411 votes, or 0.18 percent of the 207,745 cast.
Incoming state Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, confirmed Ulvert's figures.
Both said the two previous most expensive legislative races were:
• The 2016 Miami Senate District 37 race in Miami, in which Democrat Jose Javier Rodriguez unseated Republican Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, with the two sides together spending about $11 million.
• A 2017 special election in Miami's Senate District 40 in which Democrat Annette Taddeo beat Republican Jose Felix Diaz, with total spending of about $10 million.
Both said the two previous most expensive legislative races were Senate contests in Miami in 2016 and 2017 that cost $10-$11 million.
Through Nov. 1 Cruz's campaign spent about $500,000 and Young's campaign about $1 million.
But most of the biggest expenses on both sides, including TV, direct mail and the cost of campaign staff and polling, was paid for by the parties through their senatorial campaign committees.
Those committees take in big contributions, not subject to campaign contribution limits, from corporate donors, PACs and interest groups, many of whom stand to profit from decisions by the Legislature.
Friends of Dana Young and Building the Bay, which also don't have contributions limits, funneled more money to the party committees.
The party committees don't specifically report how much they spend on any one particular race, because under Florida law, much of their ad spending is considered "party building" rather than direct campaign spending.
That makes it almost impossible to come up with an exact spending figure, or to match the big donors to spending in the race.
But Galvano said the Republican committee spend almost $6.5 million in "race-specific" costs for the Cruz-Young race, and Ulvert said the Democratic side spent about $5 million.
"It's the reality of running senate races which are tantamount to a congressional district in urban areas," where television advertising is expensive, said Galvano. "I've watched the races get more and more expensive every (election) cycle.
He said that doesn't suggest a need for changes in campaign finance law — "It's just what it is today."
Florida's 40 state senators are paid $29,697 a year. A starting public school teacher makes about $38,000.