Orlando is split among three districts in the new Senate maps and all three favor Democrats by a fair margin, making for some interesting primary battles this fall.
The heavyweight race of the three is going down in SD 13, where former Democratic Reps. Linda Stewart and Mike Clelland have filed to run alongside fellow Democrat Rick Roach and Republican realtor Dean Asher.
Through March, Asher led in fundraising with $223,890 raised and $185,000 of that money still on hand, and his $17,000 performance in March nearly matched the combined total of his three adversaries.
Clelland came in second for the month with about $11,000 raised, bringing the Longwood Democrat to $156,050 on hand after three months, mostly on the back of a $140,000 showing in January.
Asher and Clelland also have large warchests in their political committees, with Asher sitting on nearly $200,000 compared to Clelland’s Common Sense for Central Florida with $69,000.
The frontrunners are followed by Roach, who has been running for the seat since before it favored his political party, at about $31,000 on hand, and Stewart, who only has $17,000 in the bank after two months.
The four-way race over in SD 11, currently represented by Sen. Geraldine Thompson who is running for congress, is faring similarly with Apopka Democrat Chuck O’Neal leading the pack in fundraising heading into April.
The real estate investor and former League of Women Voters vice president had $56,406 in the bank as of March 31 and has raised nearly $74,000 since filing for the seat Jan. 8, though his fundraising total was helped along by $60,000 in loans to the campaign.
Not far behind is Orlando Rep. Randolph Bracy, who had $40,641 on hand as of his latest report without the aid of loans. Also running are former Orange County commissioner Bob Sindler and former Florida Sen. Gary Siplin, who reported just a few hundred dollars apiece in their March reports.
In SD 15, Democratic Rep. Victor Torres is leading former Osceola County Expressway Authority board member Bob Healy in the Democratic Primary, with $40,641 on hand compared his opponent’s $3,000 total after his first full month in the campaign.
Also running is Republican Peter Vivaldi, who entered the race last week and has yet to report any contributions to his campaign.
Central Florida House races are looking a little less even after tabulating March’s campaign finance reports, though there is still some action to be found in some of the primary races.
Republican Tom Leek built his lead over Democratic opponent Noel Bickford with another $26,000 in the HD 25 race last month, and Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia’s opponents did little to dent his lead as he looks to shift from HD 49 to HD 50.
Republican businessman Randy Fine is still trouncing Democrat David Kearns by six figures in the H D53 race despite his sole contribution in March being a 38-cent interest payment, and Democrat Carlos Smith added another $4,740 last month to keep his $60,000 lead over Republican Amber Mariano in HD 49.
The biggest no-show in March was Space Coast Republican Sen. That Altman, who went another month without raising any money in the four-way Republican Primary for HD 52.
Frontrunner Brian Hodgers added a modest $5,100 in March for an on hand total of $343,074 – more than eight times the combined resources of Altman, Monique Miller and Robert Van Volkenburgh.
One of the top fundraisers among all legislative candidates last month was businessman William McBride, who opened his campaign account in HD 27 with a $250,000 loan and added another $9,000 in contributions, making him the de facto frontrunner in the race to replace Republican Rep. David Santiago, who is running for congress.
His only major party opponent, fellow Republican Zenaida Denizac raised just $1,900 in March for an on hand total of about $1,200 three months into her campaign.
In HD 48, Democrat Alex Barrio surpassed Amy Mercado in fundraising with $10,265 on hand after his first month in the race. Mercado, the daughter of Rep. Torres, brought in $5,658 last month for a total of $8,712 in the bank. Also running is no party candidate Augustin Martinez, who posted $1,020 in his initial finance report.
Republican HD 47 Rep. Mike Miller, one of the lone Central Florida incumbents who could find themselves in hot water this cycle, was outraised in March by Democratic candidate Elizabeth Tuura.
The broadcast professional brought in an even $10,000 for an on hand total of just under $32,000. She’s still got a ways to go to match Miller’s $100,000 campaign account and she still has to get through Democrats Clint Curtis and Henry Lim in the primary race, but if she gets through unscathed she could give Miller a run for his money in the toss up district formerly held by Linda Stewart.