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Candidates Race for Cash Ahead of Deadline

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The already-started 2010 election has a fast-approaching milepost, the June 30 deadline for second quarter campaign finance reports.

Both gubernatorial candidates, Republican Bill McCollum and Democrat Alex Sink, are heading to Orlando this week for cash calls ahead of the marker.

Sink is headed to McCollum's home region for a Wednesday evening fund-raiser at Winter Park's Interlachen Country Club, chaired by such Central Florida Democratic regulars as Roger Chapin, Jim Pugh and Richard Swann.

McCollum counters the next night with a downtown Orlando event expected to draw the checkbooks of Dick Nunes, Fred Leonhardt, Duke Crittenden and Tico Perez.

"This is an important time," acknowledged McCollum advisor Shannon Gravitte. "We're doing something almost every day, just like our opponent is."

Sink collected $1.1 million through the first three months of the year, when it looked like she'd be seeking re-election as Chief Financial Officer. Sink is offering contributors refunds, now that she's running for governor – and one thing the political class may be looking at is how many of them ask for their money back. Sink got plenty of Republican money when she was running for re-election to her Cabinet post, but many of those contributors might rather give to a GOP candidate only in the governor's race.

Sink's next quarter is still expected to be padded with most of that early million, however.

By contrast, McCollum has begun fund-raising in earnest only since jumping into the governor's race last month. In advance of the June 30 close-of-books, McCollum has planned a Tampa fund-raiser hosted by Al Austen, a Fort Lauderale event with Jim Blosser and Wayne Huizenga among the hosts, and one in Miami with former Gov. Jeb Bush collecting checks.

Neither Sink nor McCollum, though, want to say much about early fund-raising goals.

The national parties also are targeting contributors in advance of next week's reporting deadline.

J.B. Poersch, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is helping U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, is seeking to raise more than a quarter-million dollars in the closing days of this month.

He's using Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh to separate Democrats from their cash.

"In his speech last week, Newt said President Obama has already failed. We know that's ridiculous. But the best way to prove it is to defend our Senate majority," Poersch wrote in a new fund-raising letter.

In state Senate races, Republican Hillsborough County Commissioner Jim Norman was one of the top fundraisers through the first quarter as he seeks to replace retiring Sen. Victor Crist, R-Tampa. But his GOP primary opponent, Rep. Kevin Ambler, R-Lutz, was hampered by the legislative ban on raising money during session – and this quarter includes April, so his numbers will continue to reflect that.

Another interesting gauge in Senate races will be how John Thrasher is doing after ceding a large head start to Aaron Bean in the GOP primary for the race to replace Sen. Jim King, R-Jacksonville. Bean, a former representative, raised more than $220,000 through March 31, making him one of the money leaders.

The deadline for reporting April-through-June contributions is July 10.

1 Responses »

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