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  1. Florida Politics

Self-funded Carlos Beruff spends $3 million-plus on TV ads in Senate campaign

Republican candidate Carlos Beruff may be the biggest self-funder in the nation for any U.S. Senate seat this year. (Bradenton Herald]

Published May 24, 2016

TALLAHASSEE — With another surge in advertising, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carlos Beruff has spent more than $3 million on television spots statewide — most of that money from his own pocket.

It will be months before Beruff officially reports how much money he has invested in his own campaign, but it's expected to top $3 million, the campaign confirmed Monday. That would make Beruff the biggest self-funder in the nation for any U.S. Senate seat this year, surpassing Democrat Napoleon Harris, who put in $2.1 million of his own money but lost his primary election in Illinois earlier this year.

But he's got a long way to go to catch the top self-funder for a seat in Congress this year. Democrat David Trone, founder of Total Wine, spent more than $9.9 million of his own money, according to Federal Election Commission records, but lost in a primary for a seat in Congress representing Maryland's D.C.-suburbs in late April.

Beruff hasn't hidden the fact that he intends to self-fund a big part of his campaign. But in interviews he hasn't said exactly how much he plans to spend.

"I've always been a believer that if you don't bet on yourself how can you ask anyone else to," Beruff said in a recent interview with the Times/Herald.

Self-funders have not had a great track record running for the U.S. Senate since 2010. Since then, nearly 90 percent of candidates who have put $1 million of their own money into a U.S. Senate campaign have lost. In total, 34 candidates have put $1 million or more into their campaigns. Thirty of those candidates lost either in the primary or the general election. Only four — two Democrats and two Republicans — won seats in the U.S. Senate, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Beruff is not the only self-funder among Florida Republicans trying to take Marco Rubio's seat in the Senate. Orlando-area businessman Todd Wilcox has put over $1 million into his campaign.

Beruff, a homebuilder from Manatee County, is the only candidate in the Republican Senate primary who has done substantial advertising on television so far. Since the second week of April, Beruff has been running advertisements regularly Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Jacksonville, according to advertising contracts filed with the Federal Communication Commission.

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera; U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Ponte Vedra Beach; U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Indian Shores; Wilcox and Beruff are all competing in the Aug. 30 Republican primary while U.S. Reps. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, are battling in the Democratic primary.

Contact Jeremy Wallace at jwallace@tampabay.com or (850) 224-7263. Follow @jeremyswallace.

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