Alachua Republican Todd Chase reports $163,000 in first-quarter fundraising in the crowded primary to succeed exiting U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho in Florida’s 3rd Congressional District.
The 26-year Navy Commander entered the race on Feb. 4, giving him just under two months to prove his fundraising mettle. He started April with more than $136,000 in the bank.
“In the blink of an eye so many lives across this District and our Nation have been impacted by the Coronavirus,” Chase said in a news release. “Our President and Governor are leading us through a fragile and unprecedented time that will require strong and experienced leadership in Congress to ensure we rebuild without giving up the principles, values and freedoms we cherish about America.”
The campaign release noted Chase received all the cash from donors — no loans or self-contributions were listed on the report filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
That sets him apart from the current leader in the money race, Clay County Republican Judson Sapp, who has backed his campaign with $250,000 in loans. Sapp isn’t fully reliant on his own checkbook, however. Loans excluded, his campaign has raised $175,000.
The Chase campaign notes he raised “more than any candidate living in the district,” likely a shot at primary rival James St. George.
The North Central Florida physician raised $200,000 the hard way in the first quarter and bolstered the effort with an additional $200,000 in loans. St. George lives outside the district, though he runs medical clinics within its boundaries.
Another possible jab from the campaign: “Chase is the only six-figure candidate living in the district whose fundraising has not included a personal loan.”
Gainesville Republican Kat Cammack is the likely target. Though she has lived in Florida for nearly a decade, her prior gig as a Yoho staffer required her to work in the Congressman’s Washington, D.C., office on occasion, though she primarily worked out of his district office.
Cammack reported $100,000 in contributions last quarter, bringing her total fundraising up to $184,000. She has $166,000 in the bank. Her total isn’t inflated by loans or self-contributions.
Fundraising squabbles aside, Chase’s biggest coup was landing endorsements from Republican Sens. Aaron Bean and Keith Perry.
“I’ve known Todd for more than 30 years. He is a hardworking family man, an innovative business leader, and the kind of friend you’d call in a jam,” Bean said.
“Todd is a constitutional conservative who believes less government and more freedom are what make America great. I am proud to endorse him because North Florida needs servant leaders like Todd fighting for us in Washington now more than ever.”
Perry’s endorsement may prove particularly valuable — when Yoho’s decision was still fresh, early polling indicated CD 3 voters would have sent him to Washington in a landslide.
“As the father of three college students and a businessman, Todd understands the challenges facing families and small businesses here in Florida and across the country,” Perry said.
“As a conservative Republican leader, Todd has used commonsense solutions and responsible fiscal restraint to fight for local taxpayers, limit government overreach and reign in our utility. Todd’s 26 years as a Navy Commander and P3 Pilot have prepared him to serve the people of Florida and I am eager to support him in every way I can.”
Nine candidates are seeking the Republican nomination in CD 3. Other contenders include Ryan Chamberlin, Bill Engelbrecht, Gavin Rollins, David Theus and Amy Pope Wells.
CD 3 covers Alachua, Bradford, Clay, Putnam and Union counties as well as part of Marion. Several Democrats have also filed for the seat, though CD 3 is solidly Republican — Yoho won reelection by 15 percentage points in 2018.