State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, the only Cabinet member able to run for another term in November, brought in nearly $500,000 in contributions last month as he waits to see if he will face a Republican primary challenge.
And four of the candidates seeking to replace term-limited Attorney General Pam Bondi recorded six-figure fundraising months in March, topped by Democrat Sean Shaw, a state House member from Tampa who raised more than $200,000.
Candidates and political committees were required to file updated finance reports by a Tuesday night deadline. The March numbers reflect several Cabinet candidates being able to resume raising money after the March 11 end of this year’s legislative session. Lawmakers are barred from collecting contributions during the session.
Here is a summary of the March activity in Cabinet races:
The race to replace outgoing Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam added Republican Mike McCalister, a retired Army colonel from Plant City, on March 13. Meanwhile, Democrat Thomas Clayton White of Tallahassee withdrew on March 29.
McCalister, who unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2010 and U.S. Senate in 2012, reported no financial activity in March after filing his paperwork to vie for agriculture commissioner.
Among those raising money in March, former Rep. Baxter Troutman, a Winter Haven Republican, added a total of $154,400 to his campaign account and his political committee iGrow. The total included $100,000 of his own money, raising his self-funding in the race to $2.7 million.
He also received $10,000 from the Florida Prosperity Fund and $10,000 from The Voice of Florida Business PAC, both of which are tied to the group Associated Industries of Florida.
Rep. Matt Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican running for agriculture commissioner, picked up $48,750 after March 11 for his campaign account and the political committee Friends of Matt Caldwell.
Among the committee’s biggest contributions during the month were $15,000 from Florida Jobs PAC, a political arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and $10,000 from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, linked to Associated Industries of Florida.
Caldwell started April with about $1.05 million in the two accounts, which kept him financially ahead of Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring.
Grimsley raised $91,217 in March for her campaign account and her political committee Saving Florida’s Heartland.
Like with Caldwell, Grimsley’s committee received a $15,000 contribution from Florida Jobs PAC and also received $10,000 from Floridian’s United for our Children’s Future, which has ties to Associated Industries of Florida.
Overall, Grimsley started April with a combined total of about $870,000 on hand.
On the Democratic side, Homestead Mayor Jeffrey Porter posted $26,050 in March, the first time he’s recorded any money to his campaign account or his political committee Friends of Jeff Porter since entering the race on Jan. 30.
Porter has reported no spending.
No report was available from David Walker, a marine biologist from Fort Lauderdale.
CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER
Patronis, appointed to the post by Gov. Rick Scott last June, hauled in $463,785 in March for his campaign account and the political committee Treasure Florida.
With those contributions, Patronis had nearly $2.5 million on hand to kick off April.
Among the largest contributions to the political committee in March were $25,000 from the insurance firm Ormond Re Group of Ormond Beach; $25,000 from Key Biscayne financial adviser Patrick Dwyer; and $50,000 from the Voice of Florida Business PAC.
Patronis, a Panama City restaurateur, also spent $79,759 last month, with large chunks going to political, fundraising and communications consultants.
Meanwhile, the wait continues for an announcement about whether Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, will challenge Patronis for the GOP nomination.
Lee’s political committee, known as The Conservative, was mostly inactive in March. The committee, which had brought in $579,500 since September as Lee repeatedly floated the possibility of running for CFO, recorded no contributions in March while spending $27,455, mostly on political consulting.
On the Democratic side, former state Sen. Jeremy Ring collected $60,100 last month through his campaign account and the Florida Action Fund political committee. His biggest contribution, $25,000, came from the Washington-based International Association of Firefighters.
Ring, who started April with $374,860 on hand in the two accounts, also made a $22,000 contribution to the Florida Democratic Party last month.
In a crowded Republican primary, former Hillsborough County Circuit Judge Ashley Moody brought in $102,025 for her campaign account and the committee Friends of Ashley Moody. She had an advantage because she was able to raise money throughout March, unlike her Republican opponents — state House members Frank White, Jay Fant and Ross Spano.
Moody, who has Bondi’s backing, picked up $79,525 in her personal campaign account and another $22,500 for the political committee. Among the contributions to the committee was $5,000 from Floridian’s United for our Children’s Future.
Moody started April with a combined $1.54 million in the two accounts.
Fant, of Jacksonville, posted $107,283 in March contributions. The total included $2,283 to his campaign account and $105,000 to the political committee Pledge This Day. Among the two contributions to the committee was $100,000 from Scott Mackenzie, a financial adviser and investor from Jacksonville.
Fant, who previously put $750,000 of his own money into the contest, started April with about $863,000 on hand.
White, of Pensacola, was just behind Fant in March fundraising, bringing in $103,198 through his campaign account and the committee United Conservatives.
Among the $42,000 received by United Conservatives was $25,000 from the Pensacola-based Good Ideas for Government Political Committee, which is funded by businessman and philanthropist Quinton Studer. Studer is a co-owner of the Pensacola Blue Wahoos minor-league baseball team and founder of the health-care consulting company Studer Group.
White, an attorney who serves as general counsel and chief financial officer for the chain of Sandy Sansing auto dealerships, earlier put up $1.5 million of his own money for the race. He started April with $2.02 million on hand in the two accounts.
Spano, of Dover, pulled in $52,495 in April for his campaign account and the political committee Liberty and Justice for All. The committee received a single donation of $12,000 from Alternative Energy Applications, an energy service company in Tampa.
Spano started April with $96,882 in the two accounts.
On the Democratic side, Shaw posted $211,522 in contributions to his campaign account and his political committee Sean Shaw for Florida.
Shaw, who entered the statewide contest on Jan. 16, began April with $245,004 on hand.
Ryan Torrens, an attorney from Hillsborough County who has been running on the Democratic side since May 2017, picked up $4,809 in March and started April with $7,170 on hand.