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McCollum leads pack in fundraising for last quarter

TALLAHASSEE — Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum had the most successful money-raising quarter among candidates for state office, but his Democratic opponent, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, had a more successful year overall.

McCollum reported $1.4 million in contributions in the final three months of 2009, giving him $3.3 million raised so far and $2.7 million on hand.

Sink raised $1.05 million in the three-month period for a total so far of $5.1 million, and $4.3 million cash on hand in the race to succeed Gov. Charlie Crist, who is leaving after one term to run for U.S. Senate.

A third candidate for governor, Republican Sen. Paula Dockery of Lakeland, raised $192,000 in the quarter and loaned her campaign an additional $100,000. She had $200,000 on hand.

Candidates can spend as much of their own money as they want to pursue public office, but state law limits individual contributions to statewide candidates to $500.

The most competitive and crowded statewide election cycle in memory is forcing candidates to work overtime to raise money for ads that help them build name recognition with Florida voters.

Senate President Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, who is seeking to succeed Sink as CFO, reported raising $523,000 in the quarter that ended on Dec. 31, more than any other Cabinet candidate, and he reported having more than $1.5 million cash on hand.

His primary opponent, Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand, raised a mere $6,320 in the period.

Democrats have not offered a candidate for chief financial officer, one of three statewide officeholders who serve with the governor on the Cabinet.

In the Republican primary for attorney general, former Rep. Holly Benson of Pensacola raised the most money in the quarter, $235,000. But former Hillsborough County prosecutor Pam Bondi, the most recent entrant in the race, said she raised $199,000, all of it in December, and still has $197,000 on hand.

Both figures came from the candidates' campaigns. Neither candidate's fundraising details were online Monday.

A third Republican candidate for attorney general, Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, raised $182,000 in the same three-month period and has $323,000 on hand.

Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, one of two leading Democrats running for attorney general, raised $254,000 in the fourth quarter of 2009. His opponent, Sen. Dan Gelber, D-Miami Beach, raised $205,000.

In the GOP primary for agriculture commissioner, U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam, R-Bartow, said he raised $182,000 in the last quarter and reported $1 million cash on hand. His rival, Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, raised $37,000, leaving $306,000 on hand.

Among Democrats for that office, former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox raised $24,000 and former Rep. Rick Minton of Fort Pierce $1,500.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

CORRECTION: Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum reported $1.4 million in contributions in the final three months of 2009, giving him $3.3 million raised so far and $2.7 million on hand. Earlier versions of this story appearing online and in some print editions gave an incorrect amount of funds on hand.

McCollum leads pack in fundraising for last quarter 01/11/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 12, 2010 8:37am]
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