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UNITED STATES - JUNE 18: Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., speaks at a news conference at the House Triangle to oppose the Marketplace Fairness Act, also called the internet tax, which would require online retailers to collect a sales tax at the time of a purchase. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

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Florida congressional races start fall with lopsided campaign cash

In 20 of Florida’s 26 contested congressional races this fall, one major party nominee escaped from last Tuesday’s primaries with more than five times as much cash-on-hand as the other major party’s candidate.

And in many cases, the cash gap heading into the fall is so overwhelming that one party’s congressional nominee’s bank account would barely be a rounding error for the other party’s nominee. In 15 of the districts, one nominee has at least 30 times as much money as the opponent, and in six of those, the leading candidate has at least 100 times as much cash.

And in only one of the 27 races did the most-endowed, major-party nominee not have more than twice as much campaign money as the rival, in campaign finance reports through Aug. 29, the eve of the primary.

This, according to data gathered, compiled and provided by On 3 Public Relations of Tallahassee on Tuesday.

Florida is a place where a five-to-one disadvantage in campaign money looks pretty good, considering most of the state’s congressional races.

In a couple of districts, one party’s nominee came out of last Tuesday’s primaries nearly broke because of the need to spend everything to win bruising primaries. But most typically, the huge discrepancies between the major parties’  nominees are due to the complete dominance of one party.

The numbers don’t reflect other factors, such as the prospect that newly minted nominees can expect the campaign contributions to start flowing now that they’ve got a win; or that many of the campaigns may be assisted or even overwhelmed by super PAC or dark money this fall, making official campaign funds close to irrelevant.

But still.

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, fresh off an aborted U.S. Senate run, came out of a fairly contested Republican primary in Florida’s 6th Congressional District with $2.9 million in the bank. That’s roughly $21,500 for every dollar that Democratic nominee William McCullough had in his campaign fund at primary time.

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, who through redistricting is seeking another term in Florida’s 22nd Congressional District, came out of the primary with $705,000 in the bank, or roughly $1,763 for every dollar Republican nominee Andrea Leigh McGee had on hand.

U.S. Reps. Bill Posey, a Republican in Florida’s 8th Congressional District; Dennis Ross, a Republican in Florida’s 15th Congressional District; Francis Rooney, a Republican in Florida’s 19th Congressional District; and Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican in Florida’s 25th Congressional District; all also start the fall with 100-to-1 advantages in campaign money over rivals.

The only close-money races in Florida include an unexpected one. In Florida’s 3rd Congressional District, Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho‘s penchant for never raising much campaign money has created a close money race. Yoho left the primary with $429,000, while Democratic nominee Ken McGurn had $247,000 in the bank Aug. 29. That’s a 1.7-to-1 ratio, the closest in Florida.

In other races that could only generously be described as financially close headed into the fall, Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. John Mica has about five times as much money as Democratic nominee Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District; Democrat Charlie Crist had about 2.3 times as much money as Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. David Jolly in Florida’s 13th Congressional District; Democratic nominee Randy Perkins had about four times as much money as Republican candidate Brian Mast in Florida’s 18th Congressional District; Democratic incumbent U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has about 2.5 times as much money as Republican nominee Joseph Kaufman in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District; and Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Illeana Ros-Lehtinen has about five times as much money as Democratic nominee Scott Fuhrman in Florida’s 27th Congressional District.

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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