Republican Anna Paulina Luna saw a major fundraising boost in her largest haul to date, outraising incumbent Charlie Crist 3 to 1 as the two battle for Florida’s 13th Congressional District.
This record fundraising period for Luna could be the result of an endorsement from President Donald Trump, who gave Luna, a staunch-Trump ally, a shoutout over Twitter.
His support may have been be a vital factor in Luna’s campaign financing, as discussed in a previous interview with Florida Politics. Trump’s support has paid off before, most notably in 2018 when Gov. Ron DeSantis, once considered a long shot himself, catapulted to the front of the GOP pack to earn his party’s nomination after Trump endorsed him.
Luna received $1,440,942 worth of contributions from individuals — primarily through WinRed, a GOP donation platform — and $33,450 from PACs, including anti-abortion PAC Susan B. Anthony List, Friends of Matt Gaetz and Defend and Uphold Our Nation Now PAC.
Crist received $312,981 from individual donors and $124,000 from PACs such as the Solar Energy Industries Association PAC, American Bankers Association PAC and the American Postal Workers Union Committee On Political Action.
Luna’s large haul didn’t stay in the campaign’s pockets long. The Republican candidate spent $1,162,199 in the two month period, primarily going toward digital marketing campaigns.
Crist spent $1,204,227 this period on consulting, printing and advertising. The incumbent also gave to Pinellas County Commissioner Janet Long’s reelection campaign and to Florida HD 64 candidate Jessica Harrington’s campaign.
With the addition of the August/September report, the two now have nearly identical numbers as far as total fundraising. Crist has brought in $2,603,010 this election cycle, and Luna $2,506,727. The incumbent has spent $1,943,224, the newcomer $1,851,101.
However, Crist still dominates with cash on hand due, having started his campaign with a $1,679,057 boost from his previous campaign. The incumbent holds $2,338,843, while Luna only maintains $655,626.
Crist’s campaign has $48,638 in debts owed, but with his current cash-on-hand, that doesn’t seem to be a significant factor.
Sabato’s Crystal, a non-partisan election prognosticator run by the University of Virginia’s Larry Sabato, shifted CD 13 from “Likely Democrat” to “Safe Democrat” at the start of October. The shift might provide Crist a sigh of relief as he faces his first formidable opponent since he was first elected to the U.S. House in 2016 over then-Republican incumbent David Jolly.
According to a recent St. Pete Polls survey, Crist is going into the General Election with a 16-point lead over Luna. Sixteen points is about the same margin of victory by which Crist defeated Republican George Buck in 2018.
Democrats are more active in CD 13 than Republicans, according to a St. Pete Polls analysis of all registered voters in the district. For the sake of that analysis, St. Pete Polls considered an active voter any voter who cast a ballot in the last four years.
Democrats comprise 38% of all registered voters in the district, compared to just 33% Republicans. Of those, 40% of registered Democrats are considered active compared to just 36% of registered Republicans.
Not surprisingly, Crist leads overwhelmingly among Democrats with 82% support. He only has support among 22% of registered Republicans, though his share of cross-party support is higher than Luna’s 12% support among Democrats.
To have a shot, Luna will have to stretch her appeal across party lines. Her campaign hopes to relate to urban voting blocs to boost her cross-over appeal. The campaign is also relying on swing and independent voters.
Despite Crist’s monetary advantage and incumbent status, the district has plenty of voters outside the two main parties to tap. Democrats outnumber Republicans by 24,364 voters, but there are more than 150,284 non-partisan or third-party voters among the district’s 524,400 voters, according to September voter registration numbers now finalized with just two weeks before the election.