In a neck-and-neck campaign to win the Democratic nomination to run in Florida’s House District 28, Sanford non-profits executive and businesswoman Pasha Baker were able to pick up a few thousand dollars in campaign money here and there.
That was enough to more or less match Democrat Lee Mangold and to pay for some mailers, signs, and some professional campaign consultinng. But now she’s entering a much different race in the General Election, facing incumbent Republican Rep. David Smith, one of the most formidable campaign fundraisers and campaigners in Central Florida.
Baker spent most of the $38,000 she raised to pull off an airtight win in the Democratic primary. She entered the fall campaign with about $4,700 left for a restart, according to the latest reports available from the Florida Division of Elections, through August 21.
Smith, a Winter Springs business consultant and a retired U.S. Marine colonel, had $235,439 in the bank on August 21. And that’s despite the fact that Smith’s campaign was hard at work during the primary despite not facing opposition. The campaign spent more than $17,000 on advertising in recent weeks. Overall, he’s managed to raise more than $338,000.
That’s paid off with support, as his campaign raised more than $50,000 in August — more than Baker has attracted to date — and more than $130,000 this summer.
Smith’s August haul included $25,000 from the Republican Party of Florida, indicative of the party’s need for Smith to keep the seat, and perhaps indicative of the perception of the real challenge Baker might present.
Baker pulled in about $2,700 in August. In July, she got $8,000 worth of in-kind research from the Florida Democratic Party. That party support likely will accelerate now that she has won the Democratic primary.
The two are battling for a seat Smith barely won last election, defeating Mangold 51% to 49% in the 2018 election. That was despite Smith outspending Mangold, $283,000 to $53,000.
The district covers most of eastern Seminole County and parts of central Seminole, including the cities of Sanford, Winter Springs, and Oviedo. Republicans hold a little better than a 2-point advantage in voter registration, with about 37% of the voters registered as Republicans, 34% as Democrats, and 29% as independents. The district has Seminole County’s largest African American populous, largely centered in Sanford, but also significant in the Geneva and Oviedo region.