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Who's worth a bundle to Obama 2012

Florida is critical to President Barack Obama's re-election effort because of its 29 electoral votes. But the state is also a major source of campaign cash, and on Friday we got a glimpse of the men and women who helped him raise a whopping $47 million for the second quarter.

Raising $500,000 or more for Obama were Mark and Nancy Gilbert of Boca Raton, Steven Green of Miami Beach and Andrew Tobias of Miami.

Bundlers who pulled in $200,000-$500,000: J.P. Austin of Miami, Alex Heckler of Fort Lauderdale, Ben Pollara of Coral Gables and Kirk Wagar of Coconut Grove.

Raising $100,000-$200,000: Mitchell Berger of Parkland, Stephen Bittel of Miami Beach, Joseph Falk of Miami, Andrew Korge of Coral Gables, Chris Korge of Miami, Abigail and F.J. Pollak of Coral Springs, Bobby Stein of Jacksonville and Andrew Weinstein of Coral Springs.

See a full list at tampabay.com/blogs/the-buzz-florida-politics/content/obamas-florida-bundlers.

Big state lobbyist backs Romney

Brian Ballard, one of Florida's top Republican fundraisers, is joining the Mitt Romney presidential campaign as Florida finance co-chairman and a member of the national leadership team. The Tallahassee lobbyist and former chief of staff for Gov. Bob Martinez, had been one of John McCain's top Florida moneymen in 2008, as well as a top fundraiser for Gov. Charlie Crist and for Gov. Rick Scott's inaugural committee.

In for conservatives

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum is the latest Republican presidential contender to confirm he will address the American Conservative Union's meeting Sept. 23 as part of the state GOP's Presidency 5 event. Romney also has confirmed.

Florida operative out

Barely two months after he left Scott's office as director of external affairs to lead Jon Huntsman's political action committee, Spencer Geissinger is leaving the Huntsman campaign. The veteran advance guy had been overseeing the operations department.

"Spencer left the campaign to care for his ailing mother. He is still supportive of Gov. Huntsman and an informal adviser to the campaign,'' spokesman Tim Miller said.

Hillsborough GOP get

Rookie South Florida U.S. Rep. Allen West will raise money for Hillsborough County Republicans on Saturday, speaking at an "issues and ideas" dinner in Plant City.

A speech from a faraway member of Congress would normally be about an attractive as the rubber chicken served up, but West, R-Plantation, is a tea party hero with a national following. The $1.5 million he raised in the second quarter underscores his appeal far beyond his district, and why some want him to run for the Senate. "I'm fine right where I am," West told the Buzz.

West is seeking a little Tampa Bay love in return. He has sent out fundraising appeals across the country, and now one has landed in Hillsborough County. "President Obama's left-wing allies at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee want to defeat our principles so badly they have named me their #1 target for 2012!" he wrote in a four-page appeal.

Going west for cash

Speaking of going far to raise money, Sen. Bill Nelson, who raised $1.85 million in the last quarter for his re-election campaign, is a special guest of Nevada Sen. Harry Reid's at a weekend fundraiser in Lake Tahoe on Aug. 12-14. Admission is $10,000, to be divided among Reid's Searchlight Tahoe Victory Fund and Nelson and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island.

'Political Connections'

Check out Republican U.S. Senate candidate Adam Hasner on Political Connections today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. He argues that Republicans should not give an inch on debt ceiling talks and explains how a former legislative leader who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars from special interests can call himself the anti-establishment candidate: because he fought Crist before it was cool for Republicans to attack the former governor.

Winner of the week

U.S. Rep. Dan Webster. The freshman Orlando Republican has been a weak fundraiser, but with liberal firebrand Alan Grayson declaring on Monday that he's seeking a return to Congress, Webster may have found a way to shake the money tree. Nothing motivates Republicans like Grayson.

Loser of the week

Mike Haridopolos. He lost two key officials in his U.S. Senate campaign: spokesman Tim Baker and longtime political adviser Pat Bainter. The campaign looks like it's on the verge of imploding, and there's already speculation whether the Florida Senate president will bow out and run for Congress in a newly drawn seat. Arlene DiBenigno, a veteran in Florida campaigns, is coming on board — but is that enough?

Who's worth a bundle to Obama 2012 07/16/11 [Last modified: Saturday, July 16, 2011 10:46pm]
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