State Rep. Julio Gonzalez leads state Sen. Greg Steube in the race for Florida’s 17th Congressional District in the early going thanks to a sizable loan to his campaign account.
Gonzalez, a Sarasota Republican, brought in nearly $234,000 in contributions during the first few weeks of his campaign, with $150,000 of that money coming in through candidate loans. He had $230,000 on hand on March 31.
Steube, also a Sarasota Republican, raised $63,550 for his campaign, including a $15,000 loan. He finished the first quarter with about $56,000 in the bank.
A few other candidates have filed for the race, though none raised close to Gonzalez or Steube in total fundraising or cash on hand.
Democrat William Pollard has raised about $7,000 through Q1, with about $6,000 on hand, while April Freeman, the 2016 Democratic nominee, had $19,500 in her account at the end of 2017. A third Republican, William Alan Akins, had about $500 in his account through the end of Q4.
CD 17 covers parts of Sarasota, Lee and Polk counties as well as the whole of Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee.
The seat is a Republican stronghold that voted plus-27 for Donald Trump in 2016. Also in 2016, Rooney won re-election with nearly 62 percent of the vote, while Freeman received about 34 percent and unaffiliated candidate John Sawyer took 4 percent.