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Orlando-area House challengers gain fundraising ground

In four closely watched state House races in the Orlando area, challengers continue to make headway — with state party help — on the road to Nov. 4.

Here are current finance numbers for Aug. 30 to Sept. 12, from the Florida Division of Elections:

House District 29

The tightest fundraising race in the region is House District 29, the seat representing Seminole County and the cities of Lake Mary, Longwood and parts of Sanford.

Former state Rep. Scott Plakon is closing the gap in HD 29 by adding $7,550 for the reporting period from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12 – including a $5,000 check from House Republican Campaign Committee — to bring his total to $154,823. After spending more than $45K in expenditures to date, Plakon has nearly $110,000 cash on hand.

Plakon faces first-term Democrat state Rep. Mike Clelland, who seeks re-election to the Republican-leaning region including the Orlando suburbs.

Clelland raised $2,050 in the weeklong reporting period. Although he currently leads the campaign cash race overall, with a total of just over $158K, the Maitland Democrat is just $3,000 ahead of his GOP opponent. So far, Clelland spent $26,329 in expenditures and has $131,685 on hand.

House District 30

The Republican Party of Florida comes out in a big way for Longwood Mayor and business executive Bob Cortes as tries to catch up to incumbent Democrat Rep. Karen Castor-Dentel for House District 30.

Cortes raised $9,750 in the two-week reporting period — with more than $31K in-kind from the RPOF— for a total of $114,380. After $25K in loans and spending over $129K during the primary, Cortes now has $10,159 on hand.

Castor, took in a solid $28,670 from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12, bringing her total to $205,453. Spending only $49,162 in expenditures, Castor has a healthy war chest of $156,291.

House District 30 covers sections of Seminole and Orange counties.

House District 47

Much like Cortes, Republican candidate Mike Miller faces a similar challenge in the race for House District 47. Miller, who serves as Director of Marketing and Corporate Sponsorship for Athletics for Rollins College, raised $13,450 from Aug. 30 to Sept.12 – as well as healthy support from the RPOF to the tune of $32,525 – for a total of $117,261.

With $764 spent over the two-week reporting period, Miller has just under $100K in expenditures, leaving him with $17,532 on hand to face incumbent Democratic state Rep. Linda Stewart.

During the same reporting period, Stewart raised $2,165, for a total of $100,484 in contributions. Since she had not faced a primary challenge, Stewart spent just over $15K in expenditures and has more than $85,000 on hand.

HD 47 contains much of Orlando’s downtown business district.

House District 49

In House District 49, Republican Rene “Coach P” Plasencia, also faces a cash on hand deficit of nearly $130K behind Democratic incumbent state Rep. Joe Saunders.

Plasencia, a Colonial High School teacher, posted $4,000 in contributions for the Aug. 30 to Sept. 12 reporting period, as well as $10,425 in-kind boost from the RPOF. His overall total is now at $42,000. However, after spending $21,077, the popular track coach enters continues in the race against Saunders with a war chest of $20,923.

On the other hand, the Florida Democratic Party has also come out strongly for Saunders. During the two-week period, he raised $19,960, with another $9,750 of in-kind support from the Party, for a total of $187K. Spending $37,361 to date, Saunders now has almost $just under $150K cash on hand.

HD 49 is a marginal Democratic district (with a slight edge in Republican registration) that includes the region between Lake Pickett and Semoran Boulevard and Colonial Drive up to the Seminole County line.

Written By

Phil Ammann is a St. Petersburg-based journalist, editor and blogger. With more than three decades of writing, editing, reporting and management experience, Phil produced content for both print and online, in addition to founding several specialty websites, including His broad range included covering news, local government and entertainment reviews for, technical articles, and profiles for BetterRVing Magazine as well as advice columns for a metaphysical website, among others. Phil has served as editor and production manager for Extensive Enterprises Media since 2013 and lives in St. Pete with his wife, visual artist Margaret Juul. He can be reached at

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