Rep. Scott Franklin, the first-term Republican who replaced the embattled Ross Spano in Florida’s 15th Congressional District, was nearly matched in fundraising by his Democratic challenger to wrap up 2021.
According to the Federal Election Commission, Franklin raised $58,880 in the fourth quarter of 2021. That’s about $7,000 more than challenger Eddie Geller raised in the same timeframe.
Geller raised $51,830 in the fourth quarter. Year-end reports show Franklin, who filed to run in January 2021, raised $288,700 in 2021. Geller filed in August and collected $183,400 through the end of the year.
Geller, a comedian and political activist from Brandon, said he’s running a grassroots campaign based on small-dollar donations. So far, he has lived up to that. All of his contributions have come from individuals or ActBlue, a nonprofit that provides small-dollar fundraising tools to campaigns. His largest donation was $5,800.
Franklin’s contributions cap at nearly $37,000 with some high-dollar donations coming from PACs like Take Back the House 2022, which has raised more than $44 million to elect Republicans to Congress in the 2022 election cycle. Election data also shows Franklin’s campaign with nearly $423,000 in debts owed. The former Lakeland City Commissioner loaned his campaign more than a half-million dollars during the 2020 election.
Geller’s fundraising pace could pose a challenge to Franklin. The Democrat hopes to flip the district blue, although CD 15 has long been a Republican stronghold. The district includes parts of Lake, Polk and Hillsborough counties. Before Franklin, Spano held the seat. Before him was Dennis Ross.
But the point could be moot. Florida is in the middle of its once-a-decade redistricting process. And thanks to population growth, the state is getting a new congressional district this cycle. All indications are the new district will encompass all of Polk County. That means Franklin would likely run in the newly drawn district while Geller would remain in CD 15. The Florida Legislature has until the end of the Legislative Session in March to approve new maps.