Michele Rayner grows cash lead in HD 70 race to replace Wengay Newton

Michele Rayner Headshot
Rayner is running against three Democrats in the Aug. 18 primary.

Michele Rayner leads the House District 70 race by far in both overall funds raised and cash on hand, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Rayner is running against three other Democrats in the race to replace Rep. Wengay Newton who is not seeking reelection to run instead for Pinellas County Commission.

Rayner has raised nearly $97,000 to date including $12,020 in the last week of July. It was Rayners second best fundraising period to date behind March when she first filed for the race and raised more than $20,000. However, that period covered nearly a month while the most recent report spanned just seven days.

Rayner maintains just shy of $20,000 on hand heading into August.

Rayner’s contributions show broad support with 52 individual contributors donating $231 on average. She took in top $1,000 contributions from L PAC, an organization that supports LGBTQ candidates, three different realtor organizations, Danahy & Murphy law firm and Sarasota philanthropist Joe Ziomek.

The SEIU Florida and Teamsters local union each kicked in $500 and the West Central Florida Federation of Labor donated $250.

House District 64 candidate Jessica Harrington, a teacher and Democrat running to unseat Rep. Jamie Grant, donated $100. Pastor Andy Oliver, a religious activist in St. Petersburg who supports racial and LGBTQ equality, donated $250.

Rayner spent more than $15,000 during the week, most of that to Statecraft Digital in Orlando for digital advertising.

Mark Oliver is in second with $44,477 raised, but just $770 in this report.

He’s been hitting his grassroots game hard leading to a couple of unfortunate run-ins. Earlier this month a resident falsely accused Oliver of stealing mail as he was going door to door dropping off literature. Home security video showed Oliver running up to the door and leaving literature, prompting the resident to claim he was stealing mail in a social media post she later took down when voters defended Oliver. Around the same time, Oliver was attacked by a dog while canvassing neighborhoods.

He’s spent $35,744 to date, leaving him with less than $10,000 on hand heading into August.

Keisha Bell raised $2,265 in the last week of July, bringing her total contributions to $26,324, of which she has about $4,000 remaining.

Michelle Grimsley raised just $300 for a total of $19,856 since she launched her campaign in April. She’s spent a total of $13,706 to date leaving a little over $6,000 in the bank.

Candidates faced a Friday deadline to report all financial activity through July 31.

The four candidates are all Democrats, meaning voters will choose a winner in the Aug. 18 primary, which will be open to all voters regardless of party affiliation.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected].


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