Sen. Janet Cruz raised just under $13,000 for her Senate District 18 reelection campaign last month, according to newly filed campaign finance reports.
The Tampa Democrat pulled in most of the money through her official campaign account, which showed 41 contributions for a combined $10,217. The haul included a half-dozen checks for $1,000, the maximum allowable contribution for state legislative races.
The max checks came from attorney Joshua Zudar, Tampa–based lobbying firms RSA Consulting Group and ASG Consulting Group, neurosurgeon Donald Mellman, medical marijuana giant Trulieve and Tampa Action Fund, a political committee chaired by Jena Kingery of Next Level Partners. The Florida Dental Association chipped in $500 through its PAC.
Cruz also pulled in $2,500 through her affiliated political committee, Building The Bay PC. The lone contributor was Oportun, a financial services company based in San Carlos, Calif.
The committee also spent $11,000, mostly on consultants.
Orlando-based Spotlight Political Strategies received $4,161 for fundraising consulting; St. Lawrence Church picked up $2,279 for a hall rental; EDGE Communications, the firm founded by veteran Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert, received $2,000 for comms work; and Prida, Guida & Perez were paid $1,650 for accounting services. The committee also paid $895 for document shredding services from Shred Quick and ProShred.
The campaign proper spent a little over $3,000, including $1,140 to NGP VAN, a company that offers software services to Democratic campaigns and another $1,929 for Prida, Guida & Perez’ accounting expertise.
Cruz has raised just over $323,000 between her two accounts since she her narrow election to the Senate in the 2018 cycle but she has a high burn rate — Building The Bay PC has about $134,300 in the bank while her campaign has $31,180, leaving her with about $165,000 on hand heading into July.
Though substantial, she will likely need 10-fold more to secure another term, unless she’s drawn into a Democratic-leaning district in the upcoming redistricting Session.
Cruz was the lone bright spot for Senate Democrats in what ended up being a tortuous 2018 campaign cycle. The party had eyes on three Bay-area seats but took a shellacking in all but SD 18, which Cruz carried by the skin of her teeth.
The 2018 contest pitted Cruz against Republican Dana Young, a GOP-backed incumbent who now the state’s tourism marketing arm. The race cost millions and came down to fewer than 400 votes.
No other candidates, Republican or Democrat, have signed up to challenge Cruz. However, the tight 2018 margin means it will likely be a top target for future Senate President Kathleen Passidomo, the Naples Republican who will be quarterbacking the GOP’s Senate campaign efforts this cycle.
Current district borders give Cruz a slim advantage. According to book closing reports published ahead of the 2020 election, Democrats make up about 37% of the electorate compared to a 34% share for Republicans. The arithmetic difference between the parties: 11,459 voters.
While better than a registration deficit, the slim margin will be tested in a midterm that’s certain to become a referendum on the Biden administration, especially if the current tug-of-war over suburban voters stretches into 2022. All signs are it will.
The Primary Election, if necessary, will be held Aug. 23, 2022. The General Election follows on Nov. 8.