Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite is entering the House District 86 General Election with more than $167,000 on hand, according to the latest fundraising reports filed with the Division of Elections, current as of Aug. 21. That’s a hefty sum for a relatively safe incumbent.
Willhite is defending his seat amid a challenge from Republican candidate Susan Kufdakis Rivera. Willhite is sitting on nearly $63,000 in his campaign account. His political committee, Floridians for Public Safety, holds more than $104,000 as well.
Kufdakis Rivera on the other hand, has less than $2,700 available as of Aug. 21. That puts her at a significant money disadvantage as she tries to unseat the two-term incumbent.
Kufdakis Rivera filed for the seat in February. She’s an attorney with the Law Offices of Gene S. Devore, an immigration law firm. Kufdakis Rivera earned her law degree from the Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law.
Willhite is a firefighter who backed a 2019 law requiring firefighters’ health plans to cover out-of-pocket expenses for cancer treatments. This past Session, Willhite also shepherded through legislation creating a state-level position to coordinate Florida’s Alzheimer’s disease policy and a separate bill allowing pharmacies to dispense medication via kiosks.
After first taking the HD 86 seat in 2016, Willhite easily secured a second term in 2018, winning 60% of the vote. Democrats have a voter registration advantage of nearly 15 points over Republicans, putting Willhite in a strong position once again in 2020.
Neither Willhite nor Kufdakis Rivera faced a primary challenge in the Aug. 18 election. The candidates have not yet done much fundraising since primary season ended. Willhite raised just $1,000 from Aug. 14-21, while Kufdakis Rivera showed $0 in contributions during the period.
HD 86 covers parts of Palm Beach County including Wellington, Royal Palm Beach and Loxahatchee Groves.
Candidates and political committees faced a Friday deadline to report all financial activity through Aug. 21.