Fiona McFarland, Drake Buckman turn on fundraising spigots in HD 72
Fiona McFarland, Drake Buckman

McFarland Buckman
The Republican is raising money rapidly, but the Democrat has more cash on hand.

Republican Fiona McFarland is rapidly replenishing her campaign account after an expensive House District 72 primary. But Democrat Drake Buckman also just reported his most successful fundraising period to date.

McFarland reported $28,510 raised between Aug. 22 and Sept. 4. That’s after she spent $243,479 from her campaign account to beat primary opponent, Donna Barcomb, by just 263 votes.

Now, she’s reporting $20,119 in cash on hand. If nothing else, the successful period means she’s recovered enough in contributions to cover a $20,000 candidate loan consumed during the pricey primary.

As for Buckman, he raised $13,608 during the fundraising period, pulling in more in two weeks that he raised any prior month since entering the race.

That ensures he still holds a cash on hand advantage with $44,339 still in the bank. He avoided any primary in the open seat, but that means he also must play catch-up on a quarter million dollars worth of name recognition in the district.

Beyond her campaign account, McFarland also controls the political committee Friends of Sarasota, which hasn’t raised anything since the primary but still reports $7,521 on hand. In August, Buckman formed The Sunshine Fund, his own committee, but it has yet to report any financial activity.

The bottom line is that Buckman holds a substantial cash advantage now, but faces an opponent in McFarland who pulled together five figures multiple times over. The Republican is catching up in cash with less than 60 days to go before Election Day.

The race is one Republicans badly want back after losing the seat in a 2018 Special Election. That’s when Rep. Margaret Good won the seat by 7 percentage points. Good held the seat in the General Election that year, but by a much smaller margin.

With Good now running for Congress, Republicans see the region as ripe to reclaim. President Donald Trump won the district by 4 percentage points in 2016, the highest margin of victory the Republican President enjoyed in a jurisdiction now represented by a Democrat in the statehouse.

Republican Party of Florida Chair Joe Gruters has said the party will make major investments in the district, an area he also represents in the Florida Senate. So far the campaign has reported less than $1,000 in in-kind staff support. But McFarland has picked up endorsements from the Florida Chamber of Commerce and Americans for Prosperity Action.

Buckman hasn’t seen the same type of institutional support yet, but the Democratic Party of Florida has provided about $2,300 worth of support.

As of book closing for the Aug. 18 primary, about 8,200 more Republicans were registered in the district than Democrats. But 505 more Democrats than Republicans voted on Aug. 18.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


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