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Rep. Lawson, shown here with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in 2018.


With lack of serious challenge, Al Lawson fundraising in low gear

There are no high-profile 2020 opponents on horizon.

U.S. Rep. Al Lawson, running for reelection in Florida’s 5th Congressional District, is fundraising as though he’s not worried about losing.

That’s the big takeaway from the Tallahassee Democrat’s 4th quarter finance report, which actually saw him spend more than he took in.

During the last three months of 2019, Lawson raised just $59,829.64, compared to $64,965.80 spent.

Of that spend, which left him in the red for the quarter, $16,000 (more than a quarter of the total haul) went for fundraising consulting via Washington D.C.’s Advanced Network Strategies. Lawson paid back $33,958 to a loan he gave the campaign.

The vast majority of donations came via PACs, including from NextEra (the parent company of Florida Power and Light, which was the frontrunner to buy Jacksonville’s utility when it was still for sale) and Publix.

Donating on a personal level: Micky Arison, Carnival Cruise Chairman and Miami Heat owner. Arison gave $1,000.

Lawson closed 2019 having raised $278,658, with $151,610 on hand.

His most viable primary challenge, as it was in 2016 and 2018, will come from Jacksonville. That candidate, Albert Chester, has not reported 4Q numbers as of this writing, but had just under $20,000 on hand at the end of September.

Updated numbers are to be filed by close of business Friday.

The district, which straddles I-10 from Jacksonville to Tallahassee, is designed for a Democratic winner, but there will be a Republican candidate, and potentially at least a simulacrum of a competitive primary beforehand.

In the mix is Virginia Fuller, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge to Lawson in 2018. She has an open campaign account but it is insolvent as of the end of September.

Performing slightly better: Matthew Lusk, a candidate who subscribes to the philosophies of the QAnon movement, which is laden with unfounded conspiracies.

Lusk has garnered national coverage for his beliefs, but that coverage hasn’t been a donor magnet.

He closed out 2019 with $588 on hand, a potentially concerning burn rate given that he has raised almost $3,000.

Lusk has imposed fundraising restrictions on himself that are more stringent than many candidates would dare.

“I will not accept money from PACs, green card holders, anyone under 18, or small anonymous donations as allowed under law,” Lusk asserted.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at

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