Democratic senators in Florida entered this month’s Legislative Session “in the strongest position to date,” according to a new memo from consultant Christian Ulvert detailing the party’s record-setting 2021 fundraising effort.
In the last year, Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book amassed roughly $2.9 million to support Senate Victory, a political and fundraising apparatus of the Florida Democratic Party.
That figure, Ulvert wrote, exceeds Senate Victory’s prior annual high mark of $2.1 million in 2016 under then Leader-designate Oscar Braynon, which followed a redistricting effort that year.
Now dealing with redistricting again, Book and other Democratic leaders in the Senate are focused on protecting the 16 seats the party holds in the chamber. The party is particularly working on those belonging to Sen. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee and Sen. Janet Cruz of Hillsborough County. Both face battleground circumstances post-redistricting.
Cruz has raised about $370,000 so far this election cycle — including close to $120,000 in December — between her campaign account and political committee, Building the Bay PC. She now has about $400,000 on hand to defend her seat in November. No one has yet filed to challenge her.
Ausley has raised more than $294,000 this cycle through her campaign account and political committee, Florida 2020 — including more than $100,000 in January, her campaign reported. Her sole opponent, Republican Virginia Fuller, has run unsuccessfully for federal and state office several times since 2012 and has yet to report any fundraising this cycle.
“We have been working closely with their campaign operations and made early investments to ensure they have the strongest campaign teams once Session concludes in March,” Ulvert wrote.
But defense is only half the battle. Senate Victory, Ulvert continued, also has been working with candidates running for “likely competitive seats” to ensure Democrats have the best chance at growing their numbers in November. Those efforts will be refined once final district maps are available, he said.
Among those in the party running for swing Senate seats: Rep. Michael Grieco of Miami Beach, a self-described moderate Democrat who holds about $220,000 following a gangbuster round of fundraising in December; and first-time candidate Janelle Perez, who is challenging incumbent Republican Sen. Ileana Garcia.
“As we work to defend our Senate Democratic Caucus and grow our numbers, our candidates are committed to raising the funds needed to run effective races,” said Book, who holds nearly $2.7 million in available cash to defend her seat. “Our campaigns have built great momentum behind a strong, diverse slate of Democratic candidates across the state who are fighting for the values, causes and issues that matter most to everyday Floridians, like the freedom to earn a fair living, access to affordable health care, a clean environment and strong public schools.”