We're not sure Floridians' hearts will necessarily swell with pride, but our governor is on his way to becoming one of the top campaign money raisers ever. In a lousy economy, Gov. Charlie Crist hauled in $4.3 million for his Republican Senate campaign.
For perspective, consider that the average amount raised by Senate candidates through the entire 2008 election cycle was $2.4 million. Or that the old record for a Senate fundraising quarter was $1.7 million by Mel Martinez in 2004. Or that the top fundraising quarter for Jeb Bush was $2.7 million, when he was a popular sitting governor with a brother in the White House.
Crist raised $86,000 a day on average, nearly enough to cover the average salaries of two Florida teachers. That's $3,583 every hour — six times the per-capita stimulus spending in Florida.
Just think what Crist could do for Florida's budget shortfall next year if he hit the fundraising circuit again for general revenue.
Dems rake in money
Here's a switch: The Florida Democratic Party outraised the state GOP in the three months that ended June 30, $1.19 million to $1.16 million. That's the first time that's happened in a second quarter since at least 1996, and partly reflects Gov. Crist focusing on his own fundraising rather than the state party, which is restricted on what it can spend on federal races.
Both parties spent more than they took in, though the GOP said its expenses included transferring $400,000 to a different, federal account.
Democrats counted 1,740 donations while Republicans reported 224. The Democrats' biggest single donor was Charles Brink of Tampa, co-founder of the Mona Vie drink company who gave $100,000, and the Democratic National Committee gave the state party $76,000. The Republicans' biggest single donor was TECO, which gave $70,000.
Get a feel
Check out St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Larry Williams on Political Connections today at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on Bay News 9.
Jeb loves Rick Baker
In an interview with Esquire magazine, Jeb Bush lists St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker among some of the Republican idea generators he most admires: Newt Gingrich, Govs. Mitch Daniels of Indiana and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — and "the conservative mayor of St. Petersburg, Rick Baker."
Democrats fight it out
Looks like it could be a tough fight between state Sens. Dave Aronberg of Palm Beach County and Dan Gelber of Miami Beach for the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Aronberg raised $173,000, and Gelber took in $152,000 in the period ending June 30.
Meanwhile, Senate President Jeff Atwater lived up to his money machine reputation, raising nearly $529,000 for his chief financial officer campaign, compared to $51,000 for rival state Rep. Pat Patterson, R-DeLand.
Adam C. Smith can be reached at email@example.com.