Lackluster fundraising for Al Lawson, while John Rutherford continues to bank - Florida Politics

Lackluster fundraising for Al Lawson, while John Rutherford continues to bank

First-term Jacksonville area Congressmen Al Lawson, a Democrat, and John Rutherford, a Republican, reported their final fundraising numbers for 2017 this week.

Lawson is going to have to step up his fundraising game this quarter, or trouble may be ahead.

Lawson, the incumbent in Florida’s CD 5, closed 2017 with $100,531 on hand, off of $235,281 raised.

Perhaps worryingly, Lawson brought in just over $44,000 ($36,500 from PACs) with $41,000 of expenditures in the same period. The bulk of the spend was on fundraising consulting and campaign management, raising questions of ROI at least in the short term.

Among Lawson’s Q4 donors were CSX, labor union LIUNA, Anheuser-Busch, NextEra, Clear Channel/iHeart Media, AT&T, and Northrup Grumman.

Lawson’s numbers are of particular interest, as former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown announced a long-expected decision to primary Lawson on Tuesday.

Brown raised big money as an incumbent mayor in his failed re-election bid; however, it is an open question as to how the donor class will regard Brown’s political comeback.

It is by no means a sure thing that the Jacksonville business community will back Brown, given that there is a comfort level with local stakeholders with how Lawson has fought for Jacksonville interests in Congress.

However, that comfort level has yet to translate into a massive nest egg, and Q1 numbers for Brown and Lawson will be of major interest throughout the sprawling North Florida district.

Meanwhile, Republican Rutherford, who represents Florida’s CD 4, which includes Nassau, much of Duval, and St. Johns, is right on track for an uneventful re-election bid.

Rutherford ended 2017 with $183,748 on hand, bringing in $74,800 in Q4 and spending just over $37,000 of that.

Rutherford got PAC donations, including from the Republican Main Street PAC and More Conservatives PAC.

Corporations — from Comcast to Crowley Maritime, and from General Dynamics to General Electric — likewise backed the former Jacksonville sheriff. As did trade groups, such as national realtors and broadcasters committees.

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