The year 2019 seemed one of relationship and coalition building for Bryan Blackwell and Mike Giallombardo. The two Cape Coral Republicans remain the top contenders to succeed state Rep. Dane Eagle in Florida House District 77.
The dividing lines in the community in many ways could be spotted when Giallombardo attended the December kickoff for Eagle’s congressional campaign and Blackwell in January stopped by Heather Fitzenhagen’s campaign launch in her bid for the same U.S. House seat.
The statehouse race holds potential to be explosive. But as far as fundraising, December proved a quiet month. Neither candidate posted the blockbuster figures in 2019 as candidates in nearby open seats.
Giallombardo brought in $840 over the course of the month, while Blackwell raised $400. Both candidates relied only on small donations.
Still, each built up notable war chests for 2020.
Blackwell, who spent much of 2019 building connections in the Greater For Myers Chamber of Commerce, collected $50,540. He also put in a $20,000 candidate loan after filing last February.
Subtract spending and he starts 2020 with $53,751 cash on hand.
Blackwell has other resources available as well. In September Blackwell launched the political committee Friends of Bryan Blackwell. That group started with $140,000 courtesy Citizens Alliance for Florida’s Economy, chaired by political consultant Anthony Pedicini. As 2019 drew to a close, the committee still boasted $131,832 in the bank.
But Giallombardo’s campaign proper has been closing the gap with Blackwell’s steadily. The Cape Coral veteran raised a total of $61,431 in 2019, and starts 2020 with $46,501 in cash.
The district leans heavily Republican; Eagle won in 2018 with 63 percent of the vote. So the contest will largely be decided in the August primary.
On the other side of the ticket, Democrat Joshua Lopez has failed to raise any meaningful funds. Over the course of 2019 raised just $150, including $100 he gave his campaign in December. Just He starts 2020 with $74.