Carlos Guillermo Smith significantly outraises Susan Plasencia in HD 37

Smith Susan-Plasencia ART
He's spending more now, but has more than $200K worth of cash ready to deploy.

State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith continues to considerably outraise Republican challenger Susan Plasencia. But both candidates report support coming in from the state party as Election Day draws closer in House District 37.

Smith, an Orlando Democrat seeking his fourth term in the House, reported another $30,931 in contributions in the last reporting period, from Aug. 27 through Sept. 9.

On top of that, he also received in-kind support, including $4,850 worth of campaign staff time from the Florida Democratic Party and $515 in free legal work courtesy state Rep. Ben Diamond, a Democratic colleague.

Plasencia also reported help from the party. In addition to $5,483 in new donations in the reporting period, the Orlando Republican received $1,341 worth of in-kind support courtesy the Republican Party of Florida.

Over the course of Plasencia’s campaign, the party has provided more than $20,000 in in-kind support, on top of $24,000 in cash donated to the campaign. The Florida House Republican Campaign Committee has also supported her candidacy with $25,000 in cash and $245 worth of research in-kind.

Smith has sounded alarms at state party interest in the seat.

“The Florida GOP donated $50,000 cash to my opponent to make up for her lack of community support or interest in her candidacy,” he tweeted last week. “They cannot buy this battleground seat nor the energy and enthusiasm behind our campaign which earned 1,600+ donations from real people.”

Of course, the state party has provided its own support to the incumbent’s re-election effort. The Florida Democratic Party to date has provided a little more than $23,235 worth of support. But none of that has been through cash donations.

Most of his money has come from individual supporters, including some prominent ones such as NBA coach-turned-broadcaster Stan Van Gundy. He gave $1,000 on Sept. 6, as did his wife, Kim.

Medical cannabis company Trulieve also gave $1,000 to Smith. Hillary Cassel, the recently minted Democratic nominee in House District 101, also donated one grand.

As for Plasencia, a growing number of conservative political committees have donated to her effort to oust Smith. The Florida Conservative Committee, Chaired by state Rep. Bob Rommel, a Naples Republican, donated $1,000. So did Living Life With Purpose, Chaired by state Rep. Tom Leek, a Brevard Republican. Palatka GOP state Rep. Bobby Payne’s Conservatives for Rural Florida also pitched $1,000.

The Florida Free Enterprise Fund, Chaired by Florida Chamber of Commerce vice president of operations Nick Catroppo, gave $1,000 as well.

At the moment, Smith holds a major cash advantage, with $154,856 in cash on hand as of Sept. 9. In comparison, Plasencia has $39,258 ready to spend.

Of late, she’s spending faster than Smith, including dropping $2,080 on a mailer through the Nationwide Publishing Company on top of consulting, staff and administrative costs. She spent $8,556 in the last reporting period.

Smith, meanwhile, spent $5,244 in the same time frame, mostly payments to consultants Craig Wilding and Matthew Inman. But he’s left with far more in the bank.

And that doesn’t count a massive pile of cash he has in the political committee Floridians for Equality, which did report $24,000 in new contributions between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9 while spending very little. The committee sits on $69,107 in cash to deploy at any point.

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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