Who still has money to spend in the GOP primary in Florida’s 19th Congressional District?
Naples businessman Casey Askar holds a strong cash lead, with $912,201 left in cash on hand as of July 29. But he’s dipping further into his own pocket to finance his campaign.
Regardless, he has triple the cash in the bank of his nearest competitor. Rep. Byron Donalds reports $301,539 available. Stet Rep. Dane Eagle holds $250,217. Naples physician William Figlesthaler still has $240,611.
There’s a wide gap between the top four and the five other Republicans in the field. Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson had $40,508 left. Collier Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Kowal has $19,688. Disabilities advocate Darren Aquino still has $10,981 . Ave Maria law grad Christy McLaughlin sits on $7,737. Former Minnesota lawmaker Dan Severson is down to $2,947.
But the wide gap in cash resources, combined with polling consistently pointing to the same lead players, reinforces that 10 days out from the primary, this has become a four-person race.
Askar, almost since entering the race, surged to the top thanks to a willingness to spend out of pocket. He’s put a $3 million loan into the race, and while some question if the loan is proper, Askar has had no problems spending it.
Through the reporting period, he’s pumped more than $2.77 million into the race, more than any competitor. That’s primarily from the loan, but he has pulled in $686,916 in outside contributions as well. That’s come even as the cash frontrunner faces increasing scrutiny on his own record.
Figlesthaler, the other self-funder, has put $1.94 million worth of loans in the race, and has collected $602,224 on top of that amount. He’s also dipped deep into his loan, having spend $2.3 million thus far.
Much of that has been invested in a new round of round video ads heading to the big day.
But at this point, Figlesthaler has fallen behind Donalds in terms of cash at the ready. The Naples lawmaker has also seen significant outside support. Donations to his campaign total more than $1.18 million, including $493,132 in un-itemized small donations. He’s spent $881,380 on the race, all without any candidate loans.
Donations directly to Donalds’ account also only tell part of the story. Donalds, in recent weeks, earned the endorsements of the political arms for Club For Growth, Americans For Prosperity and the NRA.
Both state lawmakers in the race have raised more in outside donations than the self-funders. Eagle reports $741,113 in donations to his campaign. He’s also pulled no loans to self-finance the race, and has recently announced professional coalitions within the region.
Eagle has now spent $490,896 on the contest, raising his visibility significantly in the final weeks of the election. That translated into the largest bump of any candidate in a St. Pete Polls survey of likely Republican voters. That same poll found Askar drop from leading the field in early July to showing at fourth in early August. The latest poll notably was taken after the last financial period ended.