In his first six weeks as a candidate, Shane Abbott established himself as the heavyweight in an open House race.
The Defuniak Springs Republican closed March with more than four times the cash on hand of any competitor. After raising $23,900 in March, on top of a major haul in late February, he closed out the month with $72,718 cash on hand.
By comparison, Vance Coley, who filed for the seat in June, raised $5,760 in March and finished with just $17,243 in the bank. The Marianna Republican over the past year has spent less than $400 on the race.
Jackson County Commissioner Joel Clinton Pate, the latest candidate to jump into the GOP primary, pulled in $8,410 in March and wrapped up the reporting period with $10,410 raised. The Graceville Republican still hasn’t reported any spending.
So far, only Republicans have filed in the race to succeed Rep. Brad Drake, the only House Republican to win reelection in 2020 without opposition. He can’t seek another terms due to term limits.
That means the seat is open and has attracted an array of contenders.
The district covers all of Holmes, Jackson, Walton, and Washington counties as well as part of Bay County.
The last book closing before the 2020 election showed registered Republicans outnumber Democrats 70,506 to 31,854, leaving little doubt which party will control the seat next year.
Abbott, who owns The Prescription Place, a local pharmacy, made a huge splash by raising most of his contributions in the first two weeks. He announced a strong haul earlier this month, and records now show where that money came from.
He cashed $1,000 checks from lobbyist Ron Book and four separate entities tied to the Plantation lobbyist.
Several professional pharmacists also donated maximum amounts to their professional compatriot, including Eric Larson, William Mincy, Lora Sanderson and Helen Thomas. The Broward County Pharmacy Association also made a donation, as did several pharmacies, including Pee Jay and Cook Discount Drugs.
Meanwhile, Coley cashed a $1,000 check from Jefferson Monroe Consulting and another from Drew Hill, a Santa Rosa Beach manager.
Pate picked up $1,000 donations from Graceville businesses Rex Lumber Graceville and Flying a Fence. Consultant Alan Suskey also wrote a four-figure check, as did DRC Emergency Services out of Texas. Pate also put $1,000 out of his own pocket into the account.