Bruno Portigliatti adds $39K to HD 45 campaign

Bruno Portigliatti background blue
It's a high-stakes campaign in the new district serving Walt Disney World.

Republican Bruno Portigliatti posted a second strong month in a row of campaign fundraising, adding $39,010 in May to his run for what promises to be a very expensive Republican Primary Election in House District 45.

With that latest haul, Portigliatti, an Orlando lawyer, businessman and Christian university executive, has raised $155,680 in two months in his campaign and entered May with $137,237 in the bank for his run.

He also was holding $17,681 in an independent political committee, Liberty and Prosperity Fund, though that committee raised no money in May.

Those totals, however, put Portigliatti only in third place in the money chase among Republicans running in HD 45, the new district serving Walt Disney World and the surrounding communities in southwestern Orange County and northern Osceola County.

Carolina Amesty and Mike Zhao, both of Windermere, each had lighter Mays than Portigliatti, Yet both kicked off their campaigns by lending large sums of their own money to their campaigns, giving their official funds huge early balances. Vennia Francois of Windermere hasn’t done badly either, also raising more than $100,000 so far for a Republican Primary Election fund.

They and a fifth Republican candidate, Janet Frevola, are battling toward the Aug. 23 Republican Primary Election for the chance to take on the likely Democratic candidate, Allie Braswell of Winter Garden. He is not raising money like the four big money Republican campaigns, but has consolidated Orange County’s mostly Democratic leadership behind him.

Frevola’s May campaign finance numbers were not yet posted late Friday, Through April she also had not been fundraising at any level like her Republican rivals.

HD 45 now includes Walt Disney World, Windermere, part of Winter Garden, Champions Gate, Reunion, and part of the Four Corners area.

There is no incumbent.

Based on results of the past couple of General Elections, the new district appears pretty balanced between Republicans and Democrats, perhaps giving Democrats a slight edge.

May saw all the campaigns, including Braswell, beginning to advertise, with yard signs, some Internet advertising, and at least one mailer. But expenditures had not ramped up much.

Portigliatti, who entered the race in April and started with more than $100,000 in donations that month, picked up 55 new donations, including 33 for the $1,000 maximum amount last month.

Amesty, also a Christian university executive, started her campaign with a $200,000 personal loan. She has since raised $50,000, including $20,970 in May in 35 donations, including 17 for the $1,000 maximum. Her independent committee Friends of Carolina Amesty added $10,000 last month. Entering June, her official campaign held about $228,000, and her committee about $30,000.

Zhao, a businessman, started his campaign with a $90,000 personal loan. In May he raised just $1,429 for his campaign through six donations, while his independent political committee, Defending the American Dream, picked up $12,900. Zhao entered June, his campaign had $163,000 in the bank, and his independent committee, about $40,000.

Francois, a lawyer and former congressional staffer, raised $6,710 in May on 18 contributions for her official campaign, while her independent political committee, Families for Freedom, did not show any financial activity. She entered June with $108,530 raised and $63,000 in the bank for her official campaign, and another $30,000 held in her independent political committee.

Frevola entered May with $12,570 raised, and about $4,000 in the bank.

The Democrat, Braswell, reported raising $6,340 in 21 donations, including seven for $1,000 in May. His campaign has raised $32,840 to date and entered June with about $23,000 in the bank.

Scott Powers

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at [email protected].

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