Michelle Salzman trounces Mike Hill in January fundraising
Republican Michelle Salzman will pose a primary challenge to Rep. Mike Hill, saying he has passed ‘zero bills’ in Tallahassee.

She raised more in a month than Hill has in a year.

House District 1 candidate Michelle Salzman raised more money last month than incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Hill has managed over the past year.

Salzman, who is challenging Hill in the GOP primary, added nearly $35,000 to her campaign account January. She has now raised $48,786 since entering the race in June.

A Jan. 14 fundraiser hosted by former Senate President Don Gaetz, former Rep. Frank White and several other influential Northwest Florida Republicans helped turbocharge her campaign.

The books nearly 75 contributions for the month, including 25 for $1,000, the maximum allowable for state legislative campaigns.

Gaetz and White were among Salzman’s max donors. The Lewis Bear Company, an alcohol distributor, also made the list, as did a half-dozen members of the bear family — Lewis Bear Sr., Lewis Bear III, David Bear, Belle Bear, Cindi Bear and Jennifer Bear.

Spending came in at $2,783, leaving Salzman with 39,440 in the bank heading into February.

Hill, meanwhile, added just $5,055. His total included five max checks, one each from Impact, Cheney Enterprises, FCCI Services, John Waas Realty and Anne Waas.

Hill has raised $33,480 since filing for reelection in February 2019. He had $19,558 banked on Jan. 31.

The mounting support for Salzman traces back to June, when Hill made headlines for laughing off a suggestion that people start stoning gays. A recording of the event, and Hill’s subsequent non-apology led politicians on both sides of the aisle to condemn him.

Hill’s tanking support within his district and among his fellow Republicans in the Legislature has made him one of the least effective lawmakers in Tallahassee.

As reported by Rick Outzen, only one of the seven bills Hill filed for the 2020 Legislative Session has received a committee hearing. The measure (HB 21) isn’t substantive policy, it would simply rename the Pensacola Bay bridge after Chappie James.

Hill was elected to HD 1 in 2018 after previously holding HD 2 and giving it up for an ill-fated Senate run.

His return to the Legislature took every trick in the book — he trashed one of his Republican primary opponent for being childless and falsely claimed that he had both President Donald Trump’s endorsement and, oddly, his star from the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

He won the GOP nomination by just 542 votes.

HD 1 covers the western edge of Escambia County. It is solidly Republican. Hill received 60% of the vote in the 2018 general election. The district also went plus-27 for Trump in the 2016 presidential election.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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