Fiona McFarland pulls in $21K as maps promise challenging election cycle
Fiona McFarland.

McFarland screenshot
Other incumbents around her are raising money too. Who knows who she'll face?

Rep. Fiona McFarland added more than $20,000 to her war chest in November, her official campaign’s biggest month this year. The step up in fundraising came as draft redistricting maps made clear her district could be as much a battleground as ever.

The Sarasota Republican reported $21,125 in new donations over the course of November. Since the start of the election cycle, she has raised $76,969. She closed the month with $56,576 in cash on hand.

The proposed maps suggest McFarland could end up in a Primary with a GOP colleague, and other incumbents, such as James Buchanan and Tommy Gregory, are raising money even as the political future remains unclear.

McFarland’s numbers don’t include a Dec. 6 fundraiser she held at Owen’s Fish Camp in Sarasota, a restaurant owned by former Sarasota County Commissioner and long-time supporter Paul Caragiulo

That’s only part of the picture. An affiliated political committee, Friends of Sarasota, raised another $17,000 in November and has pulled in $72,000 this year. That means there’s another $39,624 in cash available to support McFarland’s re-election effort.

And based on draft redistricting maps, she will need the money, though the shape of whatever race she’s running is unclear.

McFarland flipped House District 72 from blue to red in 2020. McFarland won the seat after Democrat Margaret Good ran unsuccessfully for Congress instead of seeking re-election. Republican Donald Trump carried the district in the 2016 and 2020 presidential races, and it has long been a swing district but one that has, if anything, skewed red.

But both drafts created in House workshops show the district nearly perfectly split when it comes to support for Trump or Democrat Joe Biden in 2020. Moreover, one of the drafts (H 8005) puts McFarland in a neighboring district represented by Buchanan, a Venice Republican.

Wherever she runs, McFarland will be in a tough race.

A look at major contributions in November shows local philanthropist Dennis McGillicuddy, brother of former Sen. Connie Mack, donated $3,000 to McFarland’s political committee and $1,000 to her campaign, and wife and philanthropic leader Graci McGillicuddy dropped another $1,000 to her official account.

Real estate giant Zillow also donated $3,000 to the committee, while the Police Benevolent Association and the Miller Electric Company in Jacksonville each gave McFarland $2,500 checks.

Hopebridge, based in Indianapolis, donated $2,000 to McFarland’s committee. Pharmaceuticals PAC PHRMA and Georgia-based Moye Properties gave $1,500 checks to Friends of Sarasota, with PHRMA tossing an extra $1,000 to McFarland’s campaign.

Technically, the only candidate filed now against McFarland is independent Conner Trombley, who has not reported any financial activity since filing in October.

Buchanan, who remains unopposed, raised $15,500 in November and closed the month with $42,658 in cash on hand. His Buchanan for Florida committee, meanwhile, added $7,500 to its pot and closed the month with $21,347.

That leaves the two stocked in the event of a Primary, though most in Sarasota circles see a McFarland-Buchanan Primary as unlikely in any event.

Another draft map (H 8007) puts Buchanan in the same district as Gregory, a Sarasota Republican. He raised $17,100 in November for his campaign and closed November with $66,875 cash at the ready. The Friends of Tommy Gregory committee, meanwhile, reported $21,000 raised in November and held $89,166 as of the end of November.

Under either map, Gregory does not live in the district most analogous to his current House District 73. Still, for the moment he has filed for re-election without any opposition.

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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