Former Citrus County Commissioner Rebecca Bays continues her trek to the House District 23 ballot despite the incumbent’s sudden change to go for re-election.
Bays still trails Rep. Ralph Massullo in the fundraising race, though she raised $22,170 in March, much of it coming in a fundraiser the night before Massullo said he was dropping his campaign for Senate District 11 and instead would go for a fourth House term.
Bays, an Inverness Republican, said the campaign is still moving forward, despite her support of Massullo as a Representative and her backing of his then-Senate campaign.
“For now, I’m still running for the ballot,” she said.
Bays and J.J. Grow both endorsed Massullo for Senate and entered the House race only after Massullo said he would run for Senate. Both, in fact, contributed to Massullo’s Senate campaign either directly or through their businesses.
But then Gov. Ron DeSantis endorsed Massullo’s Senate opponent, Rep. Blaise Ingoglia. A few days later, DeSantis announced in a tweet that Massullo had dropped the Senate campaign and instead would run for re-election, with the Governor’s endorsement.
That series of events left Citrus County Republicans in an awkward spot.
Grow and another GOP candidate dropped from the House District 23 race shortly after, leaving Bays, Massullo, retired Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) trooper Tod Cloud and Beverly Hills resident Paul Reinhardt in the Republican Primary. Nancy Pierson, of Citrus Hills, is so far the lone Democrat in the race.
While Massullo was barred from fundraising during Session and didn’t report a dime raised in February or March, he’s still way out front financially. He shows $124,614 raised in his campaign account and another $420,996 in his campaign committee, Better Lives for Floridians. Combined, he has $426,606 net — not including $1.5 million he loaned the campaign when he announced his Senate intentions in December.
Bays has raised $35,825 total and loaned the campaign $10,000. She’s spent under $3,000.
Cloud, who retired in April 2021 after 21 years patrolling Citrus County roads for the FHP, has raised a total of $12,235, including $4,450 in March.
Reinhardt, who is unemployed but lists himself as an “investor” on campaign documents, loaned his campaign $3,500 and has raised $635 in total.
Pierson, the Democrat, has raised $2,205 and loaned her campaign $5,000.