The contest to succeed Orlando’s State Attorney Aramis Ayala in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit was supposed to be a high-profile battle between two prominent, accomplished and charismatic deputies with strong backing.
Then it was supposed to be a three-way contest after a popular retired chief judge jumped in to the race.
Since she entered the race in March, Worrell, a former assistant state attorney, former assistant public defender, former law professor, and former chief legal officer of a national criminal justice reform group in New York City, has dominated fundraising.
That’s come against three opponents who had far more prominent profiles both in Central Florida legal circles and with the general public, JC 9 Chief Assistant State Attorney Deborah Barra, Florida’s 5th Judicial Circuit Assistant State Attorney Ryan Williams, and retired JC 9 Chief Judge Belvin Perry.
For the month of April, Worrell’s campaign raised $27,838, Perry $5,000 (plus another $4,000 he lent his campaign,) Barra just $1,345, and Williams, just $125, according to the latest campaign finance reports posted this week by the Florida Division of Elections.
It’s the second month in a row Worrell out-raised the other three combined, and in March she had only two weeks of the campaign to do so.
They’re all Democrats. Since JC 9, covering Orange and Osceola counties, is a Democratic stronghold, Ayala’s successor will most likely be decided in the Aug. 18 Democratic primary,
Nonetheless, the winner of that primary still will have to win a November election, because an independent candidate, Orlando lawyer Jose Torroella, qualified for the ballot last month.
“I am humbled by the support that our campaign has seen in such a short time,” Worrell stated in a news release issued by her campaign. “It is clear that voters want a State Attorney who is committed to changing the culture of prosecution and reforming our criminal justice system, to make it more fair and equitable, and to make our communities safer.”
In six weeks on the campaign trail, Worrell has raised about $49,000, lent her campaign another $3,400, and spent about $11,000. That allowed her to enter May with about $41,000 in the bank.
In part, Worrell got a free lane this spring, because nearly all political campaigns have taken time off from fundraising during the coronavirus crisis. They all expect to rev up again soon, including Perry’s which had not yet really begun, at least not publicly.
Williams, a former assistant to Ayala who transferred to JC 5 in in 2017 in protest of Ayala’s death penalty policies, remains in front in the JC 9 State Attorney campaign money chase, having attracted $121,000 in donations in his 15 months on the trail. He’s spent $64,000, so he entered May with about $57,000 in hand.
Barra, Ayala’s chief deputy, remains atop the largest war chest, filled with $80,000 in donations she’s collected in ten months plus, $50,000 in personal loans to her campaign. Her campaign has spent about $43,000, so Barra entered May with about $87,000 in the bank.
Perry, now a partner in the Morgan and Morgan law firm, has amassed about $20,000 and has spent about half of that in four months on the trail.
Torroella actually tucked away more money in April than Barra or Williams, because he lent his campaign $6,900 in April to start out.