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Jennifer Sullivan cedes ground in HD 31 money race

Mount Dora Republican Rep. Jennifer Sullivan has gone three months without raising a dime for her House District 31 re-election bid, allowing challenger Debra Kaplan to continue playing catchup.

April saw the Eustis Democrat bring in $2,430 – nearly double what she raised through the first three months of the year and her best fundraising report since filing for HD 31 in March 2017.

That haul came in across 33 contributions, most of them from small-dollar donors chipping in $100 or less. Tavaraes retiree Belita Grassel topped the monthly donor roll with a $500 check.

That total was offset by about $100 in spending, half of it for postage and the rest for petition signature verification, web hosting and credit card processing fees through fundraising platform ActBlue.

Kaplan finished April with just shy of $10,000 in total fundraising and $7,000 in the bank.

That total still puts her far behind Sullivan who, thanks to HD 31’s voter split, is nearly ensured a third term. Thanks to hitting the fundraising trail prior to the 2018 Legislative Session, the second-term lawmaker still has more than half of the $39,800 she’s raised in her campaign account.

After spending $2,350 in April, including $1,000 for consulting work from Gainesville-based Data Targeting Research, she had $21,121 in the bank.

HD 31 covers northeast Lake County and northwest Orange County and has a strong Republican base. GOP voters make up 44 percent of the electorate compared to a 31 percent share for Democrats, who haven’t fielded a candidate since the seat was redrawn ahead of the 2012 elections.

Sullivan was elected to the seat without an Election Day challenger in 2014 after taking nearly 35 percent of the vote in a five-way Republican Primary. Her only opposition in 2016 came from unaffiliated candidate Robert Rightmyer, whom she beat 73-27. The seat voted 59-36 for Donald Trump.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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