Following a record fundraising and spending period, Republican Traci Koster is narrowing the gap between Democrat Jessica Harrington as the two face off for House District 64.
With a week to go before the November General Election, the HD 64 house race is closing in. While Harrington held a major advantage on Koster following her late entrance into the race, the Republican candidate’s campaign has worked overtime to get her name out into the district — an effort shown through the most recent spending.
In the most recent finance reports, which span Oct. 3 through Oct. 16, Koster brought in a record $52,200, while Harrington raised $14,086.
Both candidates have their heads in the game, with Koster dishing out $103,773 this period alone, and Harrington spending $57,188. The Republican spent a little over $100,000 on media placement, while Harrington spent about $20,000 on postage and a large chunk on digital advertising.
Koster is making up for lost time — while Harrington’s spend this period is half that of Koster’s, the Democrat also spent $33,707 in the reporting period prior, where Koster only spent $1,289.
The GOP is working to make sure Koster can catch up on missed time after qualifying for the race on Aug. 17, taking the place of James Grant. Grant has represented the district since 2010, but resigned the week before the Florida primaries to take a job as Florida’s Chief Information Officer. Republicans quickly turned to Koster, who has won accolades for her pro bono legal work.
Grant hadn’t faced a challenger in the primary, meaning he had already won the GOP nomination. State law allows the boards for the county Republican clubs affected to select a replacement nominee.
As far as donors this period, Koster garnered about 75 contributors to her campaign, primarily made up of $1,000 donations from PACs and businesses. These include donations from Comcast Co., the Florida Justice PAC, Floridians United for Our Children’s Future and Dosal Tobacco Co.
Harrington’s campaign saw about 200 donors, consisting mostly of individuals and several smaller PAC donations, as well as $1,000 donations from the Communications Workers of America Union PAC and One Positive Step Inc.
With the election closing in, Harrington still has a lead on Koster with $82,258 cash on hand, while the Republican maintains $40,100 in available spending money.
In a race that was previously considered a long-shot, Democrats are likely seeing an opportunity to win against a late entrant.
The race hasn’t been completely clean, either, with Harrington being the subject of several false attack ads from the Republican Party, leading the candidate’s campaign to send a cease and desist notice.
In 2018, Harrington lost to Grant, 52%-45% — a margin of about 5,600 votes.
The district leans right. Of the district’s 123,943 voters, 48,896 are Republicans and 39,364 are Democrats. The district also has 1,557 third party voters, and 34,126 voters with no party affiliation. The district covers parts of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.