Julio Gonzalez takes early lead over Greg Steube in CD 17 money race
Rep. Julio Gonzalez, R-Venice, right, asks Rep. Stan McClain, R-Belleview, to explain a section of his bill to outlaw threats publicly posted online to kill or do bodily injury to others during the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee meeting Wednesday at the Capitol in Tallahassee.

Julio Gonzalez

State Rep. Julio Gonzalez leads state Sen. Greg Steube in the race for Florida’s 17th Congressional District in the early going thanks to a sizable loan to his campaign account.

Gonzalez, a Sarasota Republican, brought in nearly $234,000 in contributions during the first few weeks of his campaign, with $150,000 of that money coming in through candidate loans. He had $230,000 on hand on March 31.

Steube, also a Sarasota Republican, raised $63,550 for his campaign, including a $15,000 loan. He finished the first quarter with about $56,000 in the bank.

Gonzalez and Steube both filed for the sprawling congressional district in March, shortly after Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney announced he would not seek re-election in 2018.

A few other candidates have filed for the race, though none raised close to Gonzalez or Steube in total fundraising or cash on hand.

Democrat William Pollard has raised about $7,000 through Q1, with about $6,000 on hand, while April Freeman, the 2016 Democratic nominee, had $19,500 in her account at the end of 2017. A third Republican, William Alan Akins, had about $500 in his account through the end of Q4.

CD 17 covers parts of Sarasota, Lee and Polk counties as well as the whole of Charlotte, DeSoto, Glades, Hardee, Highlands and Okeechobee.

The seat is a Republican stronghold that voted plus-27 for Donald Trump in 2016. Also in 2016, Rooney won re-election with nearly 62 percent of the vote, while Freeman received about 34 percent and unaffiliated candidate John Sawyer took 4 percent.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.



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