Ford O’Connell spends big but Tiffany Esposito holds cash edge heading into August
Ford O'Connell, Tiffany Esposito

O'connell esposito SBS
Most of O'Connell's spending came out of pocket.

Republican Ford O’Connell spent more than double the amount spent by Primary opponent Tiffany Esposito in the open state House District 77 race. But the bulk of his expenditures have come out of pocket.

The Fox Business personality through July 15 dropped $115,395 on the race, most of that with Virginia-based The Lukens Company. After spending $63,182 with the company in June on media and advertising expenditures, O’Connell spent another $28,552 in the first half of July.

The former Donald Trump White House surrogate along the way picked up the endorsement of Florida Family Action and of members of the Trump administration, including David Bossie and Tom Homan.

But O’Connell is largely funding the race out-of-pocket. Running for a job that pays under $30,000 a year, O’Connell pulled a $150,000 candidate loan when he first launched his campaign in May and tossed an extra $10,000 in on June 28.

Since launching, he has only raised $35,994 in outside contributions.

By comparison, SWFL Inc. CEO Tiffany Esposito raised some $153,305 from outside sources. She has only spent $72,168, about half of that in the first two weeks of July.

Critically, Esposito still held $81,137 in cash on hand as of July 15, compared to O’Connell’s $40,599. The Aug. 23 Primary inches ever closer as both aim to reach voters already receiving mail-in ballots.

Her spending has included $49,920 with TM Strategic Consulting, which has provided consulting, direct mail and other advertising services to Esposito’s campaign since she announced in March.

Since jumping into the race, Esposito lined up support from elected officials in the area including virtually the entire Lee County legislative delegation and most countywide officers.

The two Republicans are competing for the nomination in an east Lee County seat covering Lehigh Acres and San Carlos Park. The winner of the Primary will face Democrat Eric Engelhart, who has yet to spend on the race to date.

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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