After winning a heated Republican Primary in House District 45, Windermere Republican Carolina Amesty enjoyed a massive surge in donations. In the last two-week reporting period, she collected more than Democrat Allie Braswell has reported the entire election cycle.
But the Republican remains drowning in campaign debt. She may need to consider out-of-pocket costs to win in a district where most voters supported Joe Biden in 2020.
Amesty reported $59,500 in new contributions between Aug. 27 and Sept. 9. Most of that comes courtesy of the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee, the party arm dedicated to retaining a GOP majority in the state House. The group wrote out a $49,000 check for hard cash supporting Amesty.
Over the same period of time, Winter Garden Democrat Braswell collected $10,657. The new money brings Amesty’s total contributions for the election cycle to $146,706 compared to Braswell’s $63,508.
But Amesty has spent far more, indeed much more than she has raised. Through the filing period, the Republican poured $283,398 into the race, buoyed by her donations and by a $200,000 candidate loan. Braswell has put $5,000 into his coffers through a loan but right now enjoys a greater chance of seeing the money again.
That means the Republican holds $63,308 in cash on hand to the Democrat’s $30,573. But that’s offset by the fact she owes nearly $137,000 on top of that amount.
But then, Amesty also has access to the political committee Friends of Carolina Amesty. That committee has seen little financial activity since the Primary, raising $100 and spending just over $4. But it collected $228,911 before then and still has $114,876 available. And none of that came out of pocket.
So where are the candidates drawing support as November nears? Besides the official support from the party, Amesty, a private Christian university executive, saw dollars roll in from political committees associated with sitting Republican lawmakers like Reps. Sam Garrison, Tom Leek, Bobby Payne and Bob Rommel.
Sen. Dennis Baxley also gave $1,000 personally to her campaign. A committee associated with Jacksonville area House candidate Jessica Baker gave the same amount.
The pro-business Associated Industries of Florida, run by Brewster Bevis, also chipped in $1,000 to Amesty.
Meanwhile, Braswell received $1,000 from charter school executive Jennifer Porter-Smith, VyStar leaders Willie Johnson and Jimmy Peluso and The Hope Church executive director Allen Wiggins.
And while the Florida Democratic Party has not written a five-figure check, the state party did provide $3,259 through in-kind research to Braswell’s campaign.
Investment of resources for both parties shows the stakes in the district. While Amesty holds a financial edge, about 52.13% of voters in the newly drawn district voted for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 election, compared to 46.62% who favored Republican Donald Trump.
It’s also a district largely analogous to one held now by Democratic Rep. Geraldine Thompson, who is running for a Senate seat this cycle. The district covers much of the area of Orange and Osceola around Walt Disney World. And while this could well be a Republican year with Biden remaining unpopular, Disney has seen an unusual amount of tension with Gov. Ron DeSantis this year.