Sanibel City Councilman Jason Maughan saw two bits of news lift his state House candidate.
First, he reported another $11,500 for his state House run during April. Second, a seemingly doomed straw ban he introduced won some support from the Governor.
Before hosting a first fundraiser, the former state Senate candidate has pulled in $62,000 total. And with the departure of Bonita Springs Republican Peter Cuderman, he’s the only candidate for the open District 76 seat.
Maughan looks to succeed state Rep. Ray Rodrigues, an Estero Republican, who is not running because of term limits.
“I’m just doing my outreach now,” he said.
Maughan said he can’t assume the open seat will be uncontested 18 months out. But he’s hoping to shore up support early.
“My suggestion to anybody thinking about getting in is to just file,” he said. “I don’t like the idea of someone just jumping into it at the end, especially someone within the party.”
In the deep red district, a GOP challenger would likely provide the strongest opponent. Rodrigues in November defeated Democrat David Bogner by a 29-percent margin.
In the month of April, the bulk of money into Maughan’s account came from individuals in Lee County. More than half his donors for the month live on Sanibel Island.
But he said the race ultimately raised his name recognition and helped when he ran for municipal office in Sanibel.
He feels good about his fundraising for this point in the cycle, he said.
He also felt a boost Friday when Gov. Ron DeSantis issued his first veto. The governor sided with local municipalities and nixed a preemption on local plastic straw bans.
Sanibel was actually the first municipality listed in a veto message from DeSantis, who said the ordinances have not “harmed the state’s interests.”
That’s good news for Maughan, who introduced the Sanibel straw ban.
“The whole conservative island and businesses wanted it,” Maughan said.