While focused on coronavirus response, Vern Buchanan’s campaign still manages to raise $439K in first quarter
Vern Buchanan urges Congress to hang up on Florida robocalls.

Sarasota Republican focused on district residents trapped abroad or at sea.

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan in March wrestled with the State Department to bring constituents off cruise ships and home from overseas.

He also wrapped up a 2020’s first fundraising quarter. The Sarasota Republican raised $439,000 in coffers since the start of 2020, the campaign told Florida Politics.

That brings him to $2.36 million to use in his reelection bid this year.

Buchanan remains in one of the most closely watched Congressional races in Florida, where he faces state Rep. Margaret Good. The Democrat hasn’t reported first quarter numbers yet, and closed 2020 with $812,000 raised.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee remains bullish on Good’s ability to beat to beat Buchanan, but prognosticators so far aren’t listing the incumbent at risk.

Regardless, the campaign has largely moved into the background in a news cycle shaped by the threat of COVID-19 and related fallout.

That has includes the virus stranding a number of constituents of Florida’s 16th Congressional District overseas or at sea.

Four Sarasota residents were passengers on a Holland American cruise ship that became a source of controversy. Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Broward County Port Authority expressed concerns in letting the boat dock in South Florida, which prompted Buchanan to lobby the White House to let constituents off the vessel. The Zaandam ultimately docked at Port Everglades with Florida residents allowed off but the sick remaining on the boat to be treated.

Buchanan also closely followed the path of the Coral Princess, where six other constituents of Buchanan’s were ultimately able to disembark after being screened for COVID-19.

Additionally, Buchanan helped negotiate with the State Department and India officials on the safe return of Sarasota resident Kendra Simpkins, who had been stranded in New Delhi for a month.

“I’m working to help other constituents trapped overseas get home as well. It’s very nerve-wracking for our neighbors to be trapped overseas as these countries restrict flights and lock down travel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In March, Buchanan sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo regarding Simpkins, as well as three other constituents isolated abroad: Geraldine Escott, a 69-year-old asthmatic stuck in Peru; Daniel Orzech, a Bradenton man in Quarantine in Peru; and Cindy Alejandra Gutierrez Ramirez, a Lithia woman stuck with her daughter in Colombia.

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]

One comment

  • anthony kesner

    April 10, 2020 at 11:15 am

    Buchanan was also complicit in designing the purposely flawed unemployment benefits system the then governor Scott had concocted to please his corporate cronies. Buchanancares only about donors and couldn’t care less about the working people of Florida! Wake up Republican voters and stop voting against your needs please.

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