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It's still anyone's race in CD 15.


Kristen Carlson doubles Ross Spano in CD 15 fundraising

If Lakeland Democrat Kristen Carlson isn’t able to flip Florida’s 15th Congressional District, it won’t be for lack of fundraising.

Carlson’s new campaign finance report, which covers Aug. 9 through Sept. 30, shows more than $584,000 in receipts and about $150,000 in spending. To date, Carlson has raised $905,567 for her congressional bid, including $66,500 in candidate loans and another $25,615 in candidate contributions.

Calrson’s opponent, Dover Republican Rep. Ross Spano, showed less than half the fundraising prowess of his opponent in the heretofore deeply Republican Central Florida District.

Spano’s report showed another $191,530 in contributions coupled with a $27,500 candidate loan for an overall score of $219,030 during the two-month reporting period. To date, the third-term state Representative has raised just shy of $440,000, including $104,500 in candidate loans.

The Spano campaign also has $265,000 in debt, outstripping the cash it had in the bank at the end of September by $100,000. By comparison, the Carlson campaign had $65,000 in debt and $502,000 cash on hand when it was pencils down for the reporting period.

Further down the finance report, the fundraising breakdown shows $571,379 of Carlson’s haul came from individual donors, with the average contribution weighing in at $637. The other $13,000 raised came from PACs, with more than half of that cash coming from the re-election account and affiliated PAC of Maryland U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer, the current House Minority Whip.

Most of Carlson’s spending went toward payroll expenses, though her expenditure report also included a $12,800 Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, which paid for a mid-September poll showing Carlson leading the race by 1 percentage point. The report also showed $42,000 spent on direct mail campaigns and $7,000 spent on walkcards.

Spano’s report showed a more even split between individual donors and PACs, receiving $96530 from the former and $95,000 from the latter. The average individual donor on the itemized list chipped in about $1072.

Spano’s long list of PAC contributions included checks from KOCH Industries and the American Medical Association. Current CD 15 U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, who announced his retirement earlier this year, also chipped in with a $3,000 check.

His expenditure report showed $69,000 worth of direct mail campaigns, $35,000 in spending on media production and placement.

CD 15 covers parts of Hillsborough, Lake and Polk counties. It voted plus-10 for President Donald Trump two years ago while Ross scored a 15-point victory over Democratic nominee Jim Lange.

Despite the strong Republican lean, political handicappers give Carlson a fighter’s chance to flip the district. FiveThirtyEight currently gives Carlson a 40 percent chance to win on Election Day. At the end of August, the site gave her a 1 in 4 chance.

Written By

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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