2018 legislative races Archives - Page 6 of 47 - Florida Politics

Ed Hooper takes slim lead in SD 16 comeback bid

Former Republican Rep. Ed Hooper has taken back the lead from former Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy in the race to fill Pasco and Pinellas county-based Senate District 16.

According to a new poll conducted over the weekend, Hooper is the pick for 47 percent of SD 16 voters with Murphy coming in just behind him with 45 percent support. Only 8 percent of those polled said they were still unsure which of the two candidates they would pick to replace former Clearwater Sen. Jack Latvala.

The St. Pete Polls survey comes six weeks after a poll from SEA Polling & Strategic Design showed Murphy on top, 41-39 percent. All public polls of the race released thus far have reflected a tight race between the two former lawmakers, with the early July measure from St. Pete Polls also showing Hooper with a 2-point lead, 45-43 percent.

SD 16 is one of the more Republican-friendly Senate districts being targeted by Florida Democrats in the fall, though Murphy has in the past shown an ability to woo GOP voters. She represented House District 36 from 2013 through 2016, when she lost to now-Rep. Amber Mariano.

That race came down to just a handful of votes despite President Donald Trump winning the Pasco-based House seat in a 20-point landslide.

Murphy is peeling off about a fifth of Republican voters in the new poll. But Hooper has seen a slight bump in support from Democratic voters compared to a few months ago. He was the favored candidate for about 17 percent of registered Democrats in the survey.

By race, Hooper holds a 4-point edge among white voters. The poll included only a few black and Hispanic voters, though it indicates a lead for Murphy among those demographics. Hooper also leads among men, 51-44 percent, while Murphy holds a 46-43 percent lead among women.

By age, Murphy leads 47-44 percent among Millennials and 53-40 percent among 50- to 69-year-olds. Hooper has a 10-point edge among Gen Xers and runs up the score among voters over 70, with 54 percent preferring him compared to a 34 percent share for Murphy.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted Sept. 16 via an automated phone call polling system. It received responses from 1,040 who said they planned to vote in the general election. The top-line result has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

Hooper has been in the race since early 2016 and has raked in $490,000 in hard money and another $250,000 through his political committee, Friends of Ed Hooper. Heading into September, he had a combined war chest of $515,700.

Murphy, who entered the race in early May, has raised $73,655 in campaign dollars. Two political committee’s chaired by the former lawmaker — Working Towards Florida’s Future and Taxpayers for Responsible Government — have also collected a combined $130,000 since May. Recent finance reports show she has $101,750 banked between the three accounts.

SD 16 covers northern Pinellas County and southwestern Pasco County, including Clearwater, Dunedin, Safety Harbor, Palm Harbor, New Port Richey and Oldsmar. Republicans make up about 38 percent of the district’s electorate, while Democrats make up about a third. Two years ago, President Donald Trump carried the district by 12 points.

Young Cruz 3

Dana Young has 3-point lead over Janet Cruz in SD 18 battleground

The first general election season poll of the Senate District 18 battle brought some good news for incumbent state Sen. Dana Young.

The St. Pete Polls survey shows the Tampa Republican with a 3-point lead, 45-42 percent, over House Minority Leader Janet Cruz. The remaining 13 percent of voters are undecided.

The poll shows an improvement for Young over St. Pete Polls’ prior survey of the race, conducted in July. That measure showed Cruz with a 1-point lead over Young, 44-43 percent, with the same level of undecided voters.

In the three months since that poll, Cruz’ share of her Democratic base has slipped from 70 percent to 64 percent, with about half of those voters now sitting on the fence and the remainder declaring they will support Young in November.

Also of note is a tightening of the race among no- and third-party voters. In July, Cruz held a 15 percentage point lead among independent voters. That lead has been cut in half, as Young’s share among that crowd has increased from 34 percent to 40 percent.

Broken down by race, Young leads Cruz 49-41 percent among white voters, who make up 59 percent of the electorate according to the most recently available demographic information. Hispanic voters, who make up 28 percent of the district, prefer Young 43-41 percent. Cruz holds a 2-to-1 lead among black voters, though that represents a decline from her 67-18 percent lead three months ago.

By age, Cruz leads 49-41 percent among Millennials while Young holds a lead with Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation, all of whom make up a much larger share of SD 18’s electorate.

The St. Pete Polls survey was conducted on Sept. 16 by an automated phone call polling system. It received responses from 988 registered voters who indicated they planned to vote in the general election. Registered Democrats and registered Republicans each made up 38 percent of the sample. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

SD 18 is one of the Florida Democratic Party’s top targets for a flip in the fall and, as evidenced by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee’s recent spending on an attack ad targeting Cruz, the state GOP is aggressively defending the swing seat.

The district covers much of Tampa and has a close partisan split in voter registrations. SD 18 voted plus-6 for Hillary Clinton two years ago while at the same time electing Young with a plurality of the vote in a four-way race between her, Democratic nominee Bob Buesing and NPA candidates Joe Redner and Sheldon Upthegrove.

The 2018 ballot will not be as crowded, with Cruz and Young being the only names printed on the ballot. Neither candidate faced a challenger in the August primary elections, leaving both candidates with substantial war chests for the general.

Young, however, has a near-threefold fundraising lead and shows no sign of slowing down.

At the end of August, Young had about $460,000 in hard money with another $1.38 million banked in her affiliated political committee, Friends of Dana Young. Cruz, meanwhile, has raised $680,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Building The Bay PC, but has spent nearly $450,000 of that cash in recent weeks, most of it on advertising, leaving her with just $15,000 in hard money and $150,000 in committee cash at the end of August.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Keith Perry - FRSCC Ad

Keith Perry under fire for Facebook ads on Gainesville utility

Gainesville voters will decide in November whether to change the governance of their municipal utility and Sen. Keith Perry, a Gainesville Republican, has been using advertising – some say deceptively – in a push to get the measure passed.

The utility, Gainesville Regional Utilities, is currently under the control of the Gainesville City Commission, but the referendum would transfer its governance to a new panel.

That would include five members, appointed by the City Commission, who could serve up to three four-year terms.

The measure has been panned by city commissioners, as well as the area’s only Democratic member of the Legislature, Alachua  state Rep. Clovis Watson.

Despite the opposition, Perry has made posts on social media claiming that Gainesville City Commissioners Harvey Ward and Adrian Hayes-Santos had joined him in backing the referendum.

Each post included a video ad paid for by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, the well-stocked GOP affiliated committee chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano that’s charged with supporting Republican state Senate candidates.

“It’s over 90 degrees out, but GRU is turning up the heat,” a narrator says in the ad. “Soaring residential rates. Highest commercial rates. Over $700 million wasted on a disastrous biomass plant. 18,000 can’t pay their bills. The city commission’s solution? Raise rates again.”

Perry then takes over, asking, “How much more cash will GRU burn? Choosing between air conditioning and groceries? That’s nonsense. We need more common sense. We need to hold the city accountable.”

While no commissioner is singled out by name in the video, Perry did name Ward and Hayes-Santos in the text accompanying a pair of posts including FRSCC-sponsored video. Both posts have been viewed 5,000-10,000 times each.

“Enough is enough, the City Commission recently approved a GRU rate increase. Commissioner Harvey Ward and Keith Perry are fighting back. Like and share if you think GRU and the City Commission needs more accountability,” Perry wrote in a Sept. 14 post.

That drew the ire of Ward, who published his own post shortly after the Facebook ad went live saying, “Either Sen. Keith Perry’s campaign team doesn’t clear things with him before they run them OR he is lying.”

“He’s running a campaign spot now that implies I support this foolishness he’s been trying to perpetrate on the people of Gainesville with GRU for years,” Ward continued. “Let’s be clear: I do not support that referendum or Sen. Perry’s re-election campaign.”

Ward later posted a screenshot of a message he sent to Perry’s official Senate email account.

“In a recent campaign ad (attached) you/your campaign imply that Ward and I are working together on your GRU referendum. You know this is not the case. Every Gainesville City Commissioner opposes this referendum, including me,” he wrote in a Saturday email. “Please take the ad down as you know it to be untrue.”

As of Tuesday morning, both ads were listed as “active” according to Facebook’s ad archive.

Ward also posted links to the donation page for the campaign against the referendum, “No GRU Authority,” as well as a donate link for Perry’s Democratic challenger in his re-election bid for Senate District 8, Gainesville physician Kayser Enneking.

The GRU referendum was put on the ballot after a 2017 bill (HB 759) by Newberry Republican Rep. Chuck Clemons was cleared by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Perry shepherded that bill’s Senate companion, and had sponsored similar bills in the 2014, 2015 and 2016 Legislative Sessions, when he was a member of the House.

Perry is one of several incumbent Republican state senators facing a serious challenge in the fall, however his campaign and committee accounts are flush with about $525,000 banked between them, with an additional $425,000 worth of “in-kind” support, mostly from FRSCC.

Enneking, meanwhile, has about $234,000 left to spend between her campaign and committee accounts after a costly Democratic primary. She has also received about $145,000 worth of “in-kind” support, mostly from the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.

SD 8 covers all of Alachua and Putnam counties as well as the northern half of Marion County. It is one of a handful of districts that became more favorable to Democrats after the Senate map was redrawn ahead of the 2016 elections.

Despite Democrats holding an 8-point lead in voter registrations in the redrawn district, Perry scored a comfortable victory over two years ago as the seat was narrowly carried by President Donald Trump. Both SD 8 and the GRU question will be on the November ballot.

Tracye Polson takes off gloves in new HD 15 ad

“What side is lobbyist Wyman Duggan on?”

That’s the question posed by the first television ad from Republican Duggan’s opponent in the House District 15 general election, Democrat Tracye Polson.

The 30-second spot contends that “Duggan worked to sell JEA, raising rates, costing the city millions every year” and “wants politicians to appoint our school board.”

The ad’s reference to Duggan working to sell JEA (lobbying for Emera, a Nova Scotia utility company that also owns TECO in Tampa) was rehearsed by a Republican opponent during the primary campaign last month. However, this is the first time the claim has been televised.

Polson, meanwhile, draws a contrast to that world of influence with her upbeat narration, noting she stands “with students, who deserve great public schools; with an elected school board, with law enforcement … and as a cancer survivor and health professional, with patients.”

“My opponent can stand with the other lobbyists. I’ll always stand with Florida’s families,” Polson says in close.

The Polson ad, on television in her Westside Jacksonville district, can be seen here.

In the race to succeed Jay Fant in HD 15, Polson had (as of Aug. 31) a cash advantage: $187.000 on hand, to just $7,000.

Expect the cavalry to come to Duggan’s rescue soon enough, as Republicans are increasingly cognizant that this seat — safe through 2016 — is now in play.

Fant faced no Democratic challenge in 2016, remarkable given that Democrats actually outnumber Republicans in the district.

Brandes TV ad

Jeff Brandes says he will hold politicians accountable in new SD 24 ad

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes has released a new ad for his re-election campaign highlighting his roots in Senate District 24 and promising to hold “bureaucrats and politicians” accountable.

The 30-second ad features shots of Brandes walking with and talking to employees of a lumber yard and touts the values instilled in him when he worked for his family’s business.

“I’m Jeff Brandes. My grandfather started our family lumber business nearly 70 years ago. He taught me to work hard, to stand up for what’s right and to never give up,” Brandes says in the ad. “As a soldier, I worked to protect the America we love. As a businessman, I’ve created hundreds of jobs.”

“Today, I’m holding bureaucrats and politicians accountable so we can create better jobs, provide safe, 21st Century schools and protect families and seniors. And if the politicians don’t wake up, I’m taking ‘em to the woodshed,” he concludes.

The ad disclosure indicates the spot was paid for by the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, a PAC chaired by incoming Senate President Bill Galvano which supports GOP state Senate campaigns. Federal Communications Commission filings indicate FRSCC has placed several media buys supporting Brandes and other Senate Republicans in recent weeks.

The new ad follows another recent commercial paid for by Brandes’ campaign touting his role in shepherding the “Right to Try” law through the Legislature.

Brandes faces Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross in the general election. Cross was recruited by the Democratic Party in late July after Brandes’ previous challenger, trial lawyer Carrie Pilon, withdrew from the race for family reasons.

Through the end of August, Brandes had more than $900,000 on hand between his campaign account and political committee, Liberty Florida. Cross, meanwhile, has raised $58,600 for her campaign fund and had $54,120 on hand heading into September.

When Pilon was the presumed nominee, polling showed her within striking distance. The only public poll since Cross stepped in, however, showed Brandes with a 39-19 percent lead and 42 percent of voters undecided.

SD 24 covers most of southern Pinellas County except for the tip of the peninsula, which is included in neighboring SD 19. According to the most recent bookclosing report published by the Florida Division of Elections, Republicans hold a 4-point advantage in voter registrations within the district, which voted in favor of Barack Obama twice before going plus-7 for Donald Trump in 2016.

Brandes and Cross are the only two candidates running for the seat.

The ad is below.

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Jeff Brandes is a client of Extensive Enterprises Media, the holding company that owns FloridaPolitics.com.

Heather Fitzenhagen announces Fort Myers fundraiser

Republican state Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen will hold a fundraiser benefitting her re-election campaign on Sept. 24 in Fort Myers.

The event will be held at Society restaurant in the Bell Tower Shops, 13499 Bell Tower Dr., from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Those looking to drop by can sent an RSVP to Brittney Metzger at BrittneyRMetzger@gmail.com.

“It’s because of supporters such as you that I have been able to continue serving the residents of District 78 over the last 6 years. Although I have accomplished a lot during this time, there’s still a lot of work left to do, and I am up for the challenge,” Fitzenhagen said in a campaign email.

Fitzenhagen has represented Lee County’s House District 78 since 2012, when she earned more than two thirds of the vote in both the Republican primary and the general election. She only faced a write-in challenger in 2014, and two years ago she was re-elected without opposition.

In 2018, she faces her first Democratic challenger in Parisima Taeb, a physician who runs a private clinic in Fort Myers.

Through the end of August, Fitzenhagen held a strong lead in fundraising with more than $240,000 raised and about $98,000 on hand. Taeb has raised $22,500, including a $10,000 loan, and has about $18,000 in her campaign account.

The fundraiser invitation is below.

Fitzenhagen fundraiser 9.24.2018

endorsements

Florida Chamber endorses 16 more legislative candidates

The Florida Chamber of Commerce has put out its third wave of endorsements for state legislative seats, giving the nod to 16 more candidates, including a pair of incumbents running for re-election in South Florida.

A handful of the Florida Chamber’s new endorsements are revisions reflecting a handful of surprise victories in the Aug. 28 primary election.

“As we saw during the primary election, election outcomes can be unpredictable, but it’s our job to make sure that voters stay informed about the best possible candidates to move Florida forward,” said Marian Johnson, the Florida Chamber’s senior VP of political operations. “The Florida Chamber is proud to support candidates that support free enterprise.”

Among those getting the nod in round three was state Rep. Gayle Harrell, who demolished Belinda Keiser in the Republican primary for Senate District 25. Harrell now faces Rob Levy, a Stuart Democrat, in the Nov. 6 general election. The Chamber hadn’t offered a recommendation in the race prior to Thursday’s announcement.

The two incumbents earning an endorsement were Lake Clarke Shores Democratic Rep. David Silvers and Wellington Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite. Silvers’ only opposition is Green Party candidate Samson LeBeau Kpadenou, who is outmatched in fundraising, while Willhite faces Royal Palm Beach Republican Laurel Bennett, who is similarly underfunded and faces long odds in the deep blue House District 86.

Among the non-electeds earning the Chamber’s support were a pair of candidates who face tough battles in the fall: House District 69 candidate Ray Blacklidge and House District 93 candidate Chip LaMarca.

Blacklidge routed the Chamber’s prior pick, Jeremy Bailie, in the Republican primary and now faces Democratic nominee Jennifer Webb in the general election. The primary battle was expensive, and Blacklidge currently trails Webb in both campaign fundraising and cash on hand.

LaMarca, a Broward County Commissioner, was uncontested in the Republican primary, but he is up against well-funded Democrat Emma Collum in the general. With $335,000 raised, LaMarca has her beat threefold in hard-money fundraising, though an “angel donor” stepped in with $200,000 in committee cash to put her on even footing in the race — Republicans only hold a slim advantage in the Broward-based district currently held by term-limited Rep. George Moraitis.

Other candidates getting the nod after their Chamber-backed rivals lost in the primary include HD 10 Republican nominee Chuck Brannan, who faces two NPA candidates and Democrat Ronald Williams in November; HD 51 Republican nominee Tyler Sirois, who is going head-to-head with Democrat Mike Blake; and HD 73 Republican nominee Tommy Gregory, who cruised in the primary after one-time candidate Melissa Howard withdrew from the contest after it was revealed she had faked a diploma from Miami University.

The remaining endorsements went to HD 32 Republican nominee Anthony Sabatini, HD 103 Republican nominee Frank Mingo, HD 28 Republican nominee David Smith, HD 71 Republican nominee Will Robinson, HD 105 Republican nominee Ana Maria Rodriguez, HD 62 Democratic nominee Dianne Hart and HD 119 Republican nominee Juan Alfonso Fernandez-Barquin.

Based on the makeup of their districts, Sabatini and Robinson are set to win in November, while Hart’s only competition is a write-in candidate. Rodriguez and Fernandez-Barquin face underfunded candidates in the general, as does Smith, though HD 28 could produce a close result on Election Day. Mingo has the money advantage in his race, though HD 103 was carried by Hillary Clinton two years ago and his opponent, Cindy Polo, has earned the backing of some groups, including Ruth’s List Florida.

The Florida Chamber’s first wave of endorsements came in May. It followed up with a second wave, which included 20 state legislative candidates, in mid-July.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Jeff Brandes TV ad

Jeff Brandes recalls ‘Right to Try’ law in new campaign ad

St. Petersburg Republican Sen. Jeff Brandes released a new ad Thursday touting his successful legislative effort to give patients more options in to fight terminal diseases.

The new ad, titled “Right to Try,” features St. Petersburg osteopathic physician Rob Proietto speaking about Brandes’ role in passing a 2015 bill that authorized the use of experimental treatments and medications for terminally ill patients.

Though Gov. Rick Scott signed the House version of the bill into law, Brandes was instrumental in shepherding the Senate companion, SB 1052, through its committee stops.

“For a long time, patients fighting a life-threatening illness were also fighting a system that wouldn’t give them a chance,” Proietto says in the ad. “That’s why Jeff Brandes passed Florida’s ‘Right to Try’ law. Now, eligible patients with a serious medical condition can get access to experimental drugs or clinical trials.

“Critically ill patients have the right to try because Jeff Brandes is keeping hope alive,” Proietto concludes.

A narrator then says, “Giving patients the right to choose the treatment they need. Jeff Brandes for state Senate.”

Specifically, the “Right to Try” law allows dying patients to access experimental medical treatments that have passed a Phase One Clinical Trial but have not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Floridians deserve to have access to medical treatments that could extend or improve the quality of their lives,” Brandes said of the proposal in 2015. “It often takes three years or longer for medications to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration. We can save lives by speeding up access to these treatments for patients who don’t have other options available, and I look forward to strong bipartisan support of this legislation.”

The new ad was paid for by Brandes’ campaign account, though as of Thursday afternoon no details of the media buy backing it up had been posted by the Federal Communications Commission.

Brandes, a lifelong resident of St. Pete, is running for his final term in the Florida Senate. He was first elected to the Senate in 2012, but due to redistricting has been forced to run for re-election every two years since taking office. He was also a member of the Florida House from 2010 through 2012.

This year, he faces Democratic challenger Lindsay Cross, an environmental scientist who recently resigned as executive director of the Florida Wildlife Corridor to run for the SD 24 seat. Cross was recruited after the Florida Democratic Party’s first pick, Carrie Pilon, withdrew due to the unexpected health problems of a close family member.

Since entering the race, Cross has failed to gain traction in fundraising, have raised just $58,588 through the end of last month with $54,121 in the bank.

By comparison, Brandes has raised $822,170 in hard money, including $300,000 in self-funding, and had $525,000 in his campaign account on Aug. 31. He also had more than $375,000 at his disposal in his affiliated political committee, Liberty Florida, on Sept. 7.

SD 24 covers most of southern Pinellas County except for the tip of the peninsula, which is included in neighboring SD 19. According to the most recent bookclosing report published by the Florida Division of Elections, Republicans hold a 4-point advantage in voter registrations within the district, which voted in favor of Barack Obama twice before going plus-7 for Donald Trump in 2016.

A recent poll of the race showed Brandes with a 39-19 percent lead over Cross with 42 percent of those polled unsure of who they’ll vote for come Election Day.

Brades’ ad is below.

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Jeff Brandes is a client of Extensive Enterprises Media, the holding company that owns FloridaPolitics.com.

Shawn Harrison

Frank Reddick crosses the aisle to back Shawn Harrison’s re-election bid in HD 63

Tampa City Council Chairman Frank Reddick has endorsed state Rep. Shawn Harrison in his re-election bid for Hillsborough County’s House District 63.

Tampa City Councilors are chosen in non-partisan elections, though Reddick is a Democrat and Harrison is a Republican. HD 63 is a swing seat that Harrison has held for three non-consecutive terms. In 2018, he faces Democratic attorney Fentrice Driskell.

“I have known and worked along-side Shawn Harrison for 12 years. Representative Harrison is a true bipartisan leader. He doesn’t just talk the talk. When Shawn was Chairman Pro-Tem of the Tampa City Council, he supported my efforts to make East Tampa a stronger community. When we asked for help to stop the evictions from Tampa Park Apartments, Shawn contacted HUD on our behalf and together we were successful,” Reddick said.

“He was the only Republican in the State to support my efforts for a special session on Stand your Ground. And when needy families had an opportunity for expanded Medicaid, Shawn once again crossed party lines to support the people back home. As a Representative in Tallahassee, he has shown the courage to stand up for what’s right for his constituents, even if it meant voting against his party,” he continued.

“For decades, Shawn has proven to not only me, but the thousands of constituents he’s represented over the years, that he is willing to tackle big problems and fight for what is right and fair for our community, regardless of political party,” Reddick said.

“Shawn Harrison fought to make sure our children have access to better schools and a brighter future with his support of Hope Scholarships. And Shawn even went so far as to donate hundreds of family books to the kids at Kimbell Elementary with his ‘Read Little Cougars’ challenge. Representative Harrison is there for us when we need him most and I’m excited to endorse him and continue my work with him to move our community forward and create better opportunities for all,” Reddick concluded.

Harrison was grateful for the resounding endorsement from the influential Democrat and former colleague.

“Chairman Reddick is a friend and former colleague on the Tampa City Council. He is one of the true statesmen of our region. He has been a leading voice in our community for decades. I welcome the chance to support Frank whenever I can, and I’m truly humbled to have his support,” Harrison said.

This isn’t the first time Reddick has endorsed Harrison in a state House election. Two years ago, when the Tampa Republican was up against Tampa City Councilor Lisa Montelione, Reddick was in Harrison’s corner. Other endorsements for Harrison have come in from the Florida Realtors, the Florida Police Benevolent Association and the Associated Industries of Florida.

To date, Harrison has raised $180,511 in hard money and has $106,890 of that cash in the bank. He also has another $130,410 on hand in his affiliated political committee, Committee for an Innovative Florida, for a total war chest of $237,300 at the end of August.

Driskell, meanwhile, has raised $146,650 for her campaign account and had $100,525 left to spend on Aug. 31. Her backers include Ruth’s List, an organization that helps Democratic women get elected.

HD 63 covers part of Hillsborough County, including portions of northern Tampa and the communities of Lutz, Pebble Creek, Lake Magdalene and Carrollwood. Democrats make up about 39 percent of the swing seat’s electorate, while Republicans hold a 32 percent share.

Harrison served in the House from 2010 to 2012, when former Democratic Rep. Mark Danish beat him by about 700 votes to flip the newly redrawn HD 63 despite raising less than $20,000 for his campaign compared to nearly $300,000 for Harrison.

Harrison reclaimed the seat in the 2014 cycle with a 5-point win over Danish, and in 2016 he emerged victorious in a tough re-election battle over Montelione. His sub 2-point victory came as Democrat Hillary Clinton carried the seat by double digits.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Jennifer Webb

Jennifer Webb passes Ray Blacklidge in total fundraising, cash on hand

With her end-of-August campaign finance report, St. Petersburg Democrat Jennifer Webb has officially surpassed Madeira Beach Republican Ray Blacklidge in campaign fundraising.

Webb and Blacklidge are vying for the House District 69 seat currently held by state Rep. Kathleen Peters, who is now the Republican nominee for a seat on the Pinellas County Commission.

The small-business woman raised about $7,900 from Aug. 24 through the end of the month, bringing her fundraising total to about $181,500 since she entered the race to succeed Peters late last year. That puts her ahead of her opponent by about $3,500 in campaign fundraising.

“It’s clear that voters are attracted to our community-centered campaign, and they understand what’s at stake with this election,” Webb said in a press release touting her fundraising efforts.

“I’m grateful for the voters that continue to support our campaign. I’m committed to creating an environment where hardworking families and local businesses can thrive together,” she continued. “I will fight for clean waterways, shore up our schools and infrastructure, and ensure that families suffering from mental health or substance use can access much-needed treatment.”

Thanks to one-time Democratic candidate Javier Centonzio stepping aside, Webb was able to make it through primary season without facing a challenger. Blacklidge wasn’t as fortunate.

The Madeira Beach attorney went up against St. Petersburg attorney Jeremy Bailie in a head-to-head that ended up being a 58-42 percent rout, but it took nearly all of his war chest to do so — Blacklidge spent nearly $71,000 in the two weeks leading up to the primary election, most of it heading to Front Line Strategies, a Tallahassee-based consulting shop that offers an array of advertising and campaign services.

His final August report showed a single $1,000 check, bringing him to $178,082 in total hard money fundraising. Excluding self-funding, he’s brought in $142,284. Either way you slice it, he only had $2,500 of those funds left to spend heading into September.

While Webb has taken the lead when it comes to hard money, Blacklidge also has an affiliated political committee, Friends of Ray Blacklidge, that has brought in $52,210 this cycle. The committee’s cupboard is just as bare as his campaign account’s with about $2,600 at the ready.

Those figures also give Webb a massive lead in cash on hand. She started September with $88,820 in hard money in her account while Blacklidge had $5,123 between his campaign and committee.

The one advantage for Blacklidge: Since he faced an opponent in the primary, all the donors chipped in max contributions during the primary — 104 at last count — may do so again for the general election according to the state code governing campaign finance.

Webb hasn’t relied as heavily on $1,000 checks; they make up about a third of her total fundraising, with the average of her 1162 monetary donors chipping in about $158.33, leaving plenty of room for those supporters to keep up with small-dollar donations. By comparison, Blacklidge’s average donor has given $483.95.

HD 69 includes part of St. Petersburg and the communities of Redington Beach, Madeira Beach, Treasure Island, South Pasadena and Gulfport. Republicans have a slim lead in voter registrations in the district, which voted plus-3 for Donald Trump in 2016.

Webb was also the Democratic nominee two years ago, but lost by 13 percentage points on Election Day. The lack of an incumbent, the possibility of a “blue wave” and her strong fundraising — she’s outdone her 2016 tally and has $37,000 more banked than she did at the same checkpoint two years ago — will lead to the Pinellas County district flipping blue.

The next round of campaign finance reports, covering the first two weeks of September, are due to the state on Sept. 21.

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