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Keith Perry, Audrey Gibson pace northeast Florida fundraising in March

March offered northeast Florida’s state legislators a window to fundraise before the Legislative Session kicked off.

Some took advantage of it, such as state Sen. Aaron Bean, who brought in $11,000 via $500 and $1,000 checks on Mar. 6.

The Fernandina Beach Republican spent over $7,000 in March, including over $1,000 with Wal-Mart, and $1,497 with Annett Bus Lines of Sebring.

Bean has just over $23,000 on hand.

Bean’s Democratic colleague from Jacksonville, Audrey Gibson, had an even stronger performance, with a $20,750 March.

Gibson, like Bean, collected big checks from a diverse group of stakeholders ranging from the South Florida Greyhound Association to TECO Energy.

Gibson, who is not spending much of her money (a contrast to Bean), has $49,000 on hand.

The best campaign account performance for a northeast Florida Senator?

Gainesville Republican Keith Perry, the rare Republican from these parts in a competitive district, brought in $29,900 of new money in March – after a $68,000 February.

From CARPAC to FAIAPAC, and from Gray Robinson to Greenburg Traurig, the money came through yet again for Perry, who has over $102,000 on hand.

Meanwhile, Sen. Rob Bradley had an impressive March, in terms of fundraising for his “Working for Florida’s Families” committee.

The Clay County Republican’s committee hauled in $47,000 in March, pushing total cash on hand to $390,000.

Among the donors: Tenet Health, Altria (the tobacco company), and the GEO Group (a leader in the always booming prison industry).

All Northeast Florida Senators worked the donors in the first week of March.

Most state Representatives followed suit.

Jacksonville Beach Republican Cord Byrd of HD 11, who wasn’t necessarily the most robust fundraiser of the Republican candidates for the seat in 2016, made up for lost time as March began.

Byrd brought in $15,250 of new March money, with money from local stakeholders (Loop’s Nursery and Rayonier) folding in neatly next to contributions from Florida Crystals and the evocatively named “Texican Land Company” of Dallas.

Byrd spent $5,000 in March with TWG Technologies.

All told, he has just over $20,000 on hand – though, as is the case with every Northeast Florida State Legislator, he won’t face a competitive race for years to come.

HD 12 Republican Clay Yarborough brought in just over $5,000 in March – the second straight month in that range.

The most interesting of Yarborough’s donors: the “American People Political Committee,” which derives most of its donations from the greyhound racing industry, with parties such as the Florida Greyhound Association, the Southern Florida Greyhound Association, and a Texas company (Peck’s Training Kennels) betting on the Jacksonville Republican.

HD 13 Democrat Tracie Davis, in her first month of fundraising as an incumbent, hauled in $11,440 in March – a number inflated by $5,440 of her own money.

Among her donors: the Fiorentino Group and Toney Sleiman.

HD 14 Democrat Kim Daniels and HD 15 Republican Jay Fant have yet to file for re-election.

Daniels is definitely in, said someone in her office. Fant is a big question mark – with rumors percolating that he’s looking at the 2018 Attorney General race.

To that end, he had a fundraiser for his political committee – “Pledge This Day” – in March. And Jacksonville donors of the Ed Burr and John Delaney type came through, giving Fant’s committee a $45,850 March that brings the committee up to $80,000 cash on hand.

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HD 16 Republican Jason Fischer brought in $9,900 of new money in March – bringing his total cash on hand near the $22,000 mark.

Fischer brought in donations from the aforementioned Texican Land Company, Florida Blue, Florida Crystals, and Surterra – one of the leaders in Florida’s medical cannabis distribution space.

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Down in St. Johns County, HD 17 Republican Cyndi Stevenson brought in $13,532 in March – pushing her cash on hand over $32,000.

Over in Clay County, another robust month of fundraising ($16,600 in March) brought HD 18 Republican Travis Cummings over $56,000 on hand.

And down in Putnam County, HD 19 Republican freshman Bobby Payne was the only person on this list not to take advantage of March for significant fundraising, adding a mere $1,600 to his campaign account; Payne has $16,546 on hand.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades, with bylines in national and local publications alike on subjects ranging from pop music to national and global politics. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014, and has held a column in Jacksonville, Florida's Folio Weekly for two decades. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." Gancarski is a frequent presence on Jacksonville television and radio, including fill-in slots on WJCT-FM's award-winning talk show "First Coast Connect." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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