State Rep. Rene “Coach P” Plasencia of Orlando brought in $13,900 in April, the largest haul of any Central Florida candidate, but finds himself almost matched in the month by Republican challenger George Collins of Orlando, who lent another $10,000 to his campaign.
Plasencia, who currently represents House District 49, finds himself now in a two-way battle with Collins for the Aug. 30 primary because a third Republican, Chadwick Hardee, announced over the weekend he is dropping out of the contest due to health reasons.
Plasencia, a high school teacher and track coach, also is spending plenty of money to run his campaign, finishing April with $73,441 in the bank. He also has a political action committee, Commitment to Opportunity, Action and Community Health PC (COACHPC), but it didn’t raise any money in April and finished with just under $10,000 on hand.
Collins, an adjunct professor and former TV production engineer, raised just $250 in April, other than his personal loan, and finished April with $29,968 in the bank. So far, Collins has lent his campaign $32,560.
The only Democrat running in the district, another Orange County Schools teacher and coach, Sean Ashby, has been campaigning hard, but not raising much money in the district, which spans eastern Orange County and part of north Brevard County. Ashby raised $1,925 in April and has raised more than $10,000 overall. But Ashby also has been burning through his money quickly, and finished the month with just $2,491 in the bank.
Collins said he has his first major fundraiser coming up next week. He said he’s been attacking Plasencia for not yet living in the district, a point he said is playing well.
“He’s very vulnerable on that,” Collins said. “As you know, part of the district is in Brevard County, where most of the votes are, and they’ve been following it very closely. They prefer their candidates understand the needs of Brevard County.”