Jenna Persons remains the fundraising leader in HD 78
Jenna Persons speaks at a fundraiser at The Edison. Photo by Jacob Ogles

2019 was a very good fundraising year for the Fort Myers attorney.

When Fort Myers attorney Jenna Persons filed for Florida House, she pulled in more within days than many ever raise.

And while her $110,000-plus first month remained her best of all, she continued building a war chest. She closed 2019 having raised $179,210. That includes $2,730 raised in December.

Notably, the Persons-chaired political committee Conservative Legacy Fund also raised $4,000 in December. That means the committee raised $104,000 in 2019 and tarts the new year with $97,546 to spend.

All this leaves Persons with a massive resource advantage in the race to represent Florida House District 78.

By comparison, philanthropist Roger Lolly entered the Republican primary the same month as Persons and raised a total of $40,525 in 2019. Of that, $2,000 was raised in the last month of the year.

Of course, Lolly also is buoyed by $20,000 he put in through a candidate loan. Subtract campaign expenses and he’ll start 2020 with $44,872 cash on hand.

Persons starts the year with $156,390 in the bank.

Meanwhile, health care consultant Charles Lynch, who just entered the primary in December, wrote an $1,800 check to himself for his first month’s financial report. He hadn’t spent any of it before the end of the year.

Beyond the Republican candidates, Democrat Shawn Michael Williams also reported a $15 donation, bringing his 2019 total to $6,236. He’ll star 2020 with $3,973 in the bank.

The holiday season proved a light fundraising period for all candidates, but there were still some big donations rolling in.

The Southern Group of Florida, a Tallahassee-based lobbying firm, donated $1,000 to Persons’ campaign.

Lobbyist Ron Book chipped $1,000 to Persons’ committee, and both Southwest Florida Enterprises and the Florida Prosperity Fund made $1,500 contributions there.

Meanwhile, Brina and Jesse Skates of Mandeville, Louisiana each gave Lolly’s campaign $1,000 donations.

Candidates seemed to put more effort in the holiday season to outreach, with Persons attending numerous charity events and Lolly’s If I Can Dream foundation posting pictures of the candidate and his wife sending seasonal greetings.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


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