Sarasota Republican Fiona McFarland’s campaign has cast her as a frontrunner as she announces $20,227 in September contributions.
That means the Naval Reservist raised $125,058 since filing in June for the House District 72 seat.
“Fiona is separating herself from the pack because nobody is working harder on the campaign trail,” said Max Goodman, a top advisor to McFarland’s campaign. “That’s why September brought in a slew of local support for Team Fiona.
“People recognize a strong candidate when they see one and are genuinely excited to join forces with a female naval officer who is ready to put herself out there for her community.”
September marked the first local fundraiser for McFarland, held at Caragiulos in Sarasota. She also announced the endorsements of Sarasota County School Board Member Bridget Ziegler and Manatee County Commissioner Vanessa Baugh.
“Fiona is a vibrant addition to the political landscape,” said Ziegler, a founding member of the Florida Coalition of School Board Members.
“Her accomplished record is reflective of her passion and commitment to service, and ability to tackle complex challenges. Fiona will be a champion for Sarasota, a defender of conservative values, and an exemplary role model for future leaders.”
McFarland also picked up an endorsement from former Sarasota County Commissioner Christine Robinson, now the executive director of The Argus Foundation.
“She is the total package: Smart, highly educated, disciplined, and a deep desire to serve,” Robinson said of McFarland. “She has conviction, a deep understanding of issues important to our community, and she will provide excellent representation for us in Tallahassee.”
And Baugh praised the political newcomer as a great candidate.
“Fiona has shown that she will do the right thing,” Baugh said. “I admire someone who … sees the importance of fighting for all. She is the real deal.”
Goodman said reports will show a broad range of supporters, and will reflect a donation from former Sarasota County Commissioner Jon Thaxton, now an executive at the Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
And the campaign was recently lifted with some background support from developer and major political donor Hugh Culverhouse. He announced he’s now backing McFarland in the Republican primary over Donna Barcomb, despite donating to both.
“Fiona is like Barbaro out of the gates at the Kentucky Derby,” Goodman said. “The local support, energy and enthusiasm her campaign is generating is palpable and a big reason why she is distancing herself from the pack.”
Barcomb, a Sarasota County Charter Review Board Member hasn’t released September fundraising figures. Through August, she had raised $62,790 in outside contributions.
McFarland’s campaign also announced the associated political committee Friends of Sarasota raised an extra $500 in September on top of $10,000 already collected.
McFarland and Barcomb remain the only candidates in the House race.
Democrat Drake Buckman has also filed. He raised $8,570 in August and has not posted September numbers yet. He joined the race after Democratic incumbent Margaret Good announced she would forgo a reelection bid to challenge U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan for his Congressional seat.