Republican candidates to replace Rep. Mel Ponder in House District 4 have spent nearly half a million dollars in the run up to the Aug. 18 primary.
The four-way race between Sandra Atkinson, Jeff Hinkle, Patt Maney and Jonathan Tallman is the most expensive race in the Florida Panhandle. Candidates have spent $479,000 in the primary, but Hinkle, Chairman of the Okaloosa County Republican Party, has spent the majority of that tab.
Between his campaign account and political committee, Conservative Values Coalition, he has spent more than $250,000 in the race. Hinkle spent more than $50,000 of that in the final seven days of July, the most recent finance period available.
Maney, a retired Okaloosa County Judge, has spent more than $150,000 between his campaign fund and political committee, Service and Honor. The former judge and army veteran, financially backed largely by attorneys and real estate agents, leads in the fundraising game. He has raised more than $200,000, including $20,000 in the most recent fundraising period.
Hinkle, an aviation CEO and race car driver, has self-funded the majority of his campaign, staking $234,000 since entering the race in September. That includes $79,000 in the latest period.
Meanwhile, Tallman, a Niceville financial advisor, trails both of them with $90,000 in contributions, leaving more than $30,000 in his bank account. Over the final seven days of July, he spent $17,000 but raised only $875.
Atkinson, Okaloosa County Committeewoman for the Republican Party of Florida, is struggling to keep up with her competitors as she only tallies $1,200 left in her campaign account. The army veteran raised $150 in the final days of July and spent $200, totaling nearly $15,000 in contributions and more than $13,000 in expenses.
All four candidates have received $500 each from the Friends of Matt Gaetz committee. The Fort Walton Beach Congressmen represented the district from 2011 to 2016.
Whoever wins the Republican primary is the favorite to win HD 4, which covers part of Okaloosa County.
Democrat John Plante, a career IT professional, ran unopposed for his party’s nomination. However, he has less than $600 left in his coffers as of the end of July.
One write-in candidate from Pensacola, Lance Lawrence, will also appear on the general election ballot in November. He failed to report his most recent contributions. But it’s a safe bet that he received none and spent none considering his account has seen no activity since entering the race in June.