Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More money flowing to Democrat Sink in governor's race

TALLAHASSEE — Republicans, beware.

For the first time since the GOP won control of state government in the mid 1990s, the Democratic Party and its leading candidate for governor together raised more money than their Republican counterparts at the start of a gubernatorial election season.

Since April 1, Alex Sink, the state's Democratic chief financial officer, raised almost $1.3 million, to Attorney General Bill McCollum's $1.04 million. The Democratic Party raised nearly $2 million, while the Republican Party of Florida raised almost $1.2 million.

First, blame the bad economy for the turn of fortunes.

Many big-donor Republicans tend to hail from the development and finance industries, which are crashing. Democrats rely more on lawyers, unions and small donors who haven't been as devastated by the housing industry meltdown.

Republican Gov. Charlie Crist's success in financing his U.S. Senate race may also be hurting McCollum's 2010 fundraising. Crist has leveraged the power of his office and personality to raise a record-setting $4.3 million.

"There's not much money out there, and Charlie Crist is taking a lot of it that McCollum needs," said Republican operative Roger Stone. "Charlie is the first to ask for money, and the likeliest to get it."

Sink has been hitting up donors for months, as well.

Though the Democratic edge isn't large and the 2010 elections are more than a year away, campaign finance data show Sink is cutting into Republican territory.

Sink, whose office helps regulate insurers, received at least $100,000 each from the insurance and development industries, according to a St. Petersburg Times/Miami Herald analysis of the campaign-finance quarter that ended June 30.

A former banker, Sink brought in about $74,000 from bankers and accountants and $100,000 from donors who listed their occupations as corporate leaders or business owners.

Her biggest contributors: lawyers, their employees and their spouses, who contributed at least $288,000, almost a quarter of her money.

McCollum's top supporters hail from the development industry, which ponied up about $230,000, nearly a quarter of his cash. The state's top lawyer, McCollum, received about $100,000 each from the legal and financial industries.

Sink began raising money in January, when she intended to run for re-election as CFO. When she announced for governor, she rolled most of her CFO war chest into the new campaign account.

Altogether, Sink raised $2.4 million and made expenditures of about $240,000. As a result, she has almost $1.2 million more in the bank than McCollum.

McCollum's spokeswoman, Shannon Gravitte, said the candidate "exceeded expectations'' by raising so much money since announcing his candidacy in May. She said McCollum is better-known and more experienced at campaigning than Sink.

Also, Gravitte criticized the Sink campaign's unusual reimbursement to the state for $17,000 worth of state-plane travel to cities where the CFO had official government business — as well as campaign events.

"We're leading in every poll, and we're not under a cloud of suspicion for use of the state plane," Gravitte said.

Both McCollum and Sink, though, face ethics complaints from political opponents over their use of state planes. Each denies wrongdoing.

Sink's spokesman, Paul Dunn, said "people are crossing party lines to support'' Sink because of her background as a successful businesswoman.

A handful of major Republican fundraisers for Crist, including Broward lawyer Scott Rothstein and former lobbyist Rodney Barreto from Miami-Dade, are breaking ranks with their party to support Sink.

Sink's campaign could also get a boost from the political organization built by Barack Obama's successful presidential Florida campaign, which identified and cultivated newly energized small donors.

The Florida Democratic Party has more donors and more registered voters than the Republican Party of Florida.

Internal party discontent with Republican state chairman Jim Greer also hampered fundraising after Obama won in Florida.

Republican spokeswoman Katie Gordon countered the criticism by noting that Republican candidates overwhelmingly kept their Florida legislative and congressional seats despite Obama's big spending in Florida.

"We're in pretty good shape, with McCollum raising more than $1 million in a few weeks and Charlie Crist raising $4.3 million," Gordon said. "Democrats don't have Barack Obama (on the ticket) in 2010. Nothing against CFO Sink, but she's not Barack Obama."

Obama's former Florida campaign chief, Steve Schale, acknowledged that Democrats are in for a tough fight against the Republican election machine. But he said the dire financial times might be a big factor that helps Democrats.

"In the past, Republicans had numerous people who could write big campaign checks from 10 different companies," Schale said. "Now those same donors don't even own 10 companies."

Miami Herald staff writer Beth Reinhard contributed to this report. Marc Caputo can be reached at mcaputo@MiamiHerald.com.

FAST FACTS

Top contributors

Here are the top industry contributors to Democrat Alex Sink and Republican Bill McCollum's campaigns for governor since April 1.

McCollum

Development and real estate: $229,495

Legal: $99,225

Finance and accounting: $99,500

Health: $73,200

Lobbyists and consultants: $57,550

Sink

Legal: $287,916

Development and real estate: $106,850

Insurance: $104,300

Business leaders: $96,725

Health: $85,929

Source: Times/Herald analysis of campaign data from the Florida Division of Elections.

More money flowing to Democrat Sink in governor's race 07/22/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 10:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Review: Mumford and Sons shower Amalie Arena with love in euphoric Tampa debut

    Blogs

    There are releases, and then there are releases. And minutes into their concert Wednesday at Amalie Arena, Mumford and Sons gave Tampa the latter.

    Mumford and Sons performed at Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 20, 2017.
  2. FEMA to open disaster recovery center in Riverview

    Hurricanes

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it will open a disaster recovery center Thursday in Riverview for Hillsborough County residents impacted by Hurricane Irma.

  3. Life sentence for man convicted in killing of brother of Bucs' Kwon Alexander

    Bucs

    An Alabama man who shot and killed the 17-year-old brother of Bucs linebacker Kwon Alexander in 2015 was sentenced to life in prison Wednesday, the Anniston (Ala.) Star reported.

  4. Remember him? Numbers prove Ben Zobrist is one of greatest Rays of all time

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The first foray back to the Trop by the best manager the Rays have had obscured the second return visit by arguably the second-best player in franchise history.

    Figures.

    Chicago Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist (18) grounds into a double play to end the top of the third inning of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017.
  5. GOP's new repeal bill would likely leave millions more uninsured, analyses suggest

    Health

    WASHINGTON — The latest Republican bid to roll back the Affordable Care Act would likely leave millions of currently insured Americans without health coverage in the coming decades, and strip benefits and protections from millions more, a growing number of independent studies suggest.

    Vice President Mike Pence listens as President Donald Trump talks to reporters about the Graham-Cassidy health care bill during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi at the Palace Hotel during the United Nations General Assembly, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, in New York. [Evan Vucci | Associated Press]