Two Democratic newcomers make up cash ground in Central Florida House races

Ann Fuller and Joy Goff-Marcil

While state lawmakers have been away in Session unable to raise campaign money, a handful of Central Florida challengers – mainly women first-time-candidate Democrats – played a little catch-up on fundraising in February, led by Ann Fuller, who reported raising $8,520 in her first month of a House District 52 campaign, and  Joy Goff-Marcil, who reported raising $7,500 in just two weeks in her new bid for House District 30.

Fuller, of Melbourne, is taking on Republican state Rep. Thad Altman for the central Brevard County HD 52 seat. In her first month she reported receiving more than 50 donations totaling $8,520, and she finished the month with about $7,800 in the bank.

Altman of Indialantic, who, like all other sitting lawmakers, was barred from fundraising during the Florida Legislative Session, came out of February with just under $19,000 in campaign cash.

There also is a Republican challenger in the race. Matt Nye of Melbourne reported raising $1,095 in February and finished the month with about $4,400 in the bank.

Meanwhile, in HD 30 covering south-central Seminole County and north-central Orange County, Goff-Marcil, a member of the Maitland City Commission, entered the race Feb. 16 and picked up $7,550 in cash plus another $3,000 in in-kind professional campaign services in the final 13 days of February. She finished the month with all $7,550 in cash left.

She’s seeking to take on Republican state Rep. Bob Cortes of Altamonte Springs. Cortes’s campaign spent some money in February and finished the month with about $77,700 in the bank.

Also in that race is another Democrat, Clark Anderson of Winter Park, who did not raise any money in February and, in fact, had to return a $1,000 donation improperly logged from his wife in January. [The contribution put her over the $1,000 limit from one person.] Anderson finished February with about $11,000 in cash, $10,000 of that coming in a personal loan he earlier had made to his campaign.

Throughout Central Florida, the biggest cash haul for the month was taken by Democrat newcomer Anna Eskamani of Winter Park, who reported raising $15,816 in February, plus receiving another $1,743 in donated campaign services. She is running for an open seat for House District 47 in central Orange County, as Republican incumbent state Rep. Mike Miller of Winter Park is running for Congress. She finished the month with about $138,000 in cash.

Also in that race, Republican Stockton Reeves VI reported raising $9,400 in February, and finishing the month with $100,000 in the bank, thanks largely to a $90,000 personal loan he made at the start of his campaign. Another Republican, Mikaela Nix‘s February campaign finance filings have not yet been posted by the Florida Secretary of State. She entered the race in late January.

In another race for an open seat, Republican David Smith, a Winter Springs businessman, reported raising $4,046 in February and donating another $5,000 to his campaign for the House District 28 seat representing northeast Seminole County. Republican incumbent state Rep. Jason Brodeur of Sanford is not seeking re-election. Smith, who now has lent his campaign $85,000, finished the month of February with about $143,000 in the campaign account.

Democratic candidate Lee Mangold of Casselberry reported raising $2,483 for his HD 28 campaign. He earlier lent his campaign $10,000, and he entered March with just under $13,000 available.

Continuing the theme of Democratic women newcomers having decent months in February, Barbara Cady kept the heat on some in her bid to take on Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa in House District 42 in east and south Osceola County. Cady, of Kissimmee, reported raising $5,515 in February, her second-straight month of at least $5,000. She finished the month with about $10,500 in cash. Another Republican, Bienvenido Valentin Jr., reported raising $525 and spending just about all of it, finishing the month with about $90 in cash.

La Rosa entered March with about $66,000 in cash.

In House District 44, in southwest Orange County, Matthew Matin Winter Garden is beginning to make a statement as a Democrat to be reckoned with, raising $5,195 in February and lending his campaign another $550. He finished February with about $6,400 in the bank.

Democrat Eddy Dominguez, who ran for the Democrats in the HD 44 special election in October and just entered the 2018 race in January, had drawn significant in-kind support in his first month, but his February campaign finance reports have not yet been posted. A third Democrat, Dawn Antonis of Winter Garden, withdrew in late February.

HD 44 incumbent state Rep. Bobby Olszewski‘s February numbers also have not yet been posted. He finished January with about $30,000 in the bank.

In the House District 53 race in south Brevard County, Democratic challenger Phil Moore of West Melbourne reported raising $3,652 in his bid to unseat Republican state Rep. Randy Fine of Palm Bay. Moore’s two-month-old campaign entered March with about $3,945 in cash. Fine entered March with about $77,000 in his campaign account.

In the House District 50 race, Democrat Pamela Joy Dirschka reported raising $1,608, her first four-digit month, and finished with about $2,500 in the bank. Republican U.S. Rep Rene Plasencia of Orlando went into March with about $59,000 in cash, seeking re-election in a district stretching from east Orange County into north Brevard County.

In House District 29 in southwest Seminole County, Democratic challenger Darryl Block of Lake Mary reported raising $1,386 in his bid to take on Republican state Rep. Scott Plakon. Block finished the month, his second in the campaign, with about $3,100 in the bank. A second Democrat in the race, Patrick Brandt of Longwood, reported no campaign finance activity for the second consecutive month. He has about $1,325 in his account. Plakon went into March with about $54,000 in cash.

And in House District 31 in northwest Orange and east Lake County, Democratic challenger Debra Kaplan of Eustis reported raising $310 in February, and her campaign finished the month with about $4,100 in the bank. She’s taking on Republican state Rep. Jennifer Sullivan of Mount Dora, who finished February with about $25,000 in her campaign fund.

Scott Powers

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 [email protected]


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