Barely two months after deciding to run for Congress, Democratic candidate Alex Sink has raised more than $1.1 million for her campaign, a sure sign you'll be watching many, many commercials in the very near future.
But while Sink rakes in cash and stays on the sidelines for now, three Republicans are raising money for a primary election battle that is less than two weeks away.
In the Jan. 14 primary matchup, David Jolly leads in fundraising with $388,450, more than double his next-closest rival, Kathleen Peters, with $169,926. Fellow Republican candidate Mark Bircher had $58,443. They will spend most of that before the primary.
Sink's cash on hand is more than the Republicans' contributions put together.
Sink, the former Democratic governor candidate and chief financial officer, said in a statement that she was "incredibly grateful for the outpouring of grass roots support our campaign has received — this is another sign that our message of bringing Republicans and Democrats together to break the gridlock in Washington and get Congress focused on solving problems is resonating with Pinellas residents."
Jolly, meanwhile, said the "Washington Democratic machine" funneled money to Sink, and "I expected it to be more. I knew she'd raise a million."
"We're not going to out-raise Alex Sink and the Washington Democrats, I know that," Jolly said. "But we're going to beat her on the issues."
Peters' campaign manager, Mark Zubaly, said it's not shocking that Jolly — a former congressional aide who has worked as a Washington lobbyist — raised more than his candidate.
"I'm not surprised that he raised more because he runs in those Washington circles that are used to giving large contributions," Zubaly said.
He said the vast majority of Peters' contributors come from Pinellas County. Peters is a state representative and former South Pasadena mayor.
The money, which was revealed in reports filed Thursday, shows the intensity of a campaign that is considered a tossup. Democratic and Republican voters are fairly evenly split in the district. Libertarian Lucas Overby is also running and is convinced voters are ready for something new.
Records filed and posted on the Federal Election Commission website showed:
• Bircher raised $58,443.92 and spent $46,425.41, leaving him with $12,018.51 on hand. The money he raised included a $23,000 loan. He is a retired Marine Corps Reserve brigadier general, an airline pilot and an attorney.
• Jolly raised $388,450.08 and spent $246,558.65, leaving him with $141,891.43 on hand. The money he raised included a $50,000 loan.
• Peters raised $169,926.41 and spent $152,376.89, leaving her campaign with a balance of $17,549.52. The money she raised included a $10,000 loan.
• Sink raised more than $1.1 million and spent $88,787.40, leaving more than $1 million on hand. There were no loans.
• Overby said he had raised $12,630 this quarter and had $1,334.66 on hand.
All the candidates are running for the seat left vacant by the October death of longtime Republican U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young.
The 13th Congressional District runs from south Pinellas to Dunedin, with portions of downtown and southern St. Petersburg cut out.
Staff writer Curtis Krueger can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8232. Twitter: @ckruegertimes.