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Firefighters, trial lawyers bankroll Mike Clelland’s SD 13 campaign

Firefighters gave another big boost in April to their effort to get former firefighter and former state Rep. Mike Clelland into the Florida Senate in Orlando-based Senate District 13.

And trial lawyers pitched in again too to help Clelland, who’s now a trial lawyer.

Clelland’s independent political action committee Common Sense for Central Florida picked up $75,000 from firefighter PACS and another $20,000 from trial lawyers in April, giving him a commanding money lead over two other Democrats seeking to win the Aug. 30 Democratic primary to run for what has become a very attractive seat for Democrats. Overall, his PAC raised $101,500 in April.

Clelland also raised another $20,380 in his official campaign fund, including almost $6,000 in campaign staff support from the Florida Democratic Party.

That puts Clelland competitive but still well behind the only Republican running in the district, Realtor Dean Asher. He raised $32,852 for his official campaign fund, but nothing in his independent political campaign committee, Allegiant Friends of Florida.

The seat is being vacated by state Senate President Andy Gardiner, who is term-limited. The new district is not the same as the one Gardiner dominated in elections. Redistricting has tipped it from being Republican-leaning to being Democratic-leaning.

At the end of April, Asher had $199,000 in his PAC, which has been bankrolled entirely by Realtors’ PACs, and $205,000 in his campaign fund. Clelland had $160,000 in his PAC and $181,000 in his campaign fund. Democratic former state Rep. Linda Stewart raised just $3,038 in April, leaving her with $17,355, and former Orange County School Board Member Rick Roach raised $4,104, leaving him with $32,897.

Asher and Clelland already are spending their money, hiring staff and consultants. Asher has brought Anna Taylor on board as his campaign manager and hired fundraising consultant Front Street Consulting. Clelland has hired Aisha Bien-Aime, former deputy finance director for the Florida Democratic Party, as his campaign manager, and Washington-based Mack Sumner Communications for campaign strategy.


Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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