Ford O’Connell continues to outspend Tiffany Esposito, but his self-funding is running dry
Ford O'Connell, Tiffany Esposito

O'connell esposito SBS

Lee County Republican Ford O’Connell has spent nearly $200,000 running for a House seat. That’s almost $60,000 more than San Carlos Park Republican Tiffany Esposito. But his spending comes almost entirely out of pocket, while donor support fuels her run.

The House District 77 race pits O’Connell, a Fox Business personality, against Esposito, a local chamber of commerce leader.

Through Aug. 5, Esposito raised $189,900 for her run, including $7,850 on or after July 30. In that reporting period, she spent $21,395.

O’Connell spent more, about $29,176 at the same time, but he’s only taken in $41,594 over the campaign. His spending, though, has been buoyed by a $160,000 personal loan, allowing him to spend $192,959 on the race up until Aug. 5.

Heading into the final stretch before an Aug. 23 Primary, Esposito still had $55,569 in cash on hand while O’Connell was down to $8,635.

O’Connell’s spending includes $21,012 in media placements, $5,000 on media production, and another $3,000 on consulting payments, all to Arlington, Virginia-based The Lukens Company.

Meanwhile, Esposito has continued to spend with Fort Myers-based TM Strategic Consulting, including $10,000 on advertising and $6,124 on direct mail and printing.

She’s picked up several late $1,000 political contributions from groups in Tallahassee, including the Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, Florida Beer Wholesalers Good Government Committee, Florida Acre, Florida Insurance Council, and Associated Industries of Florida.

Esposito served as president and CEO of SWFL Inc. since 2016, before that as chief of staff at the Naples Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, O’Connell hasn’t seen any money flow from Tallahassee but cashed a $1,000 check in late July from the Presidential Coalition in Washington, D.C.

The two Republicans face each other in an Aug. 23 Republican Primary. The winner will face Democrat Eric Engelhart, who raised just $894 on top of a $5,500 loan. The district leans heavily Republican, with 56.01% of voters supporting Republican Donald Trump in 2020, compared to 43.09% who supported Democrat Joe Biden.

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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