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Fresh Faces Dominating State House Races

Republican candidates dominate fundraising efforts in the House as the top hopefuls try to secure open seats, according to campaign finance reports through the month of June.

Nineteen of the top 20 fundraisers seeking House seats are Republicans. The lone Democrat in that list is House Democratic Leader Franklin Sands, who ranked 19, according to state Division of Election reports on the fundraising quarter that closed at the end of June.

Incumbents were also scarce in the upper echelon of campaign collections. That’s because most sitting lawmakers face no opposition impeding their return.

Miami Republican Jose “Pepi” Diaz leads the list of House fundraisers, having amassed $154,816 since opening his campaign in January. Diaz -- an attorney whose resume includes being fired by Donald Trump during the fifth season of the NBC show “The Apprentice” -- is running to replace Rep. J.C. Planas, who is prevented from running again for the District 115 seat because of term limits.

For the quarter ending June 30, Bartow Republican Ben Albritton topped all prospects by raising $148,435 in his bid to fill the District 66 seat vacated by retiring member Baxter Troutman. Albritton is chairman of the Florida Citrus Commission.

Albritton’s efforts in those three months were enough to place him second among all fundraisers, some of whom have been collecting contributions for more than a year.

Two of the 20 top fundraisers, Republicans David Maymon and Kabe Woods, whose campaign coffers total $68,535 and $55,045 respectively, have put their money where their mouths are. They’ve each taken out $50,000 of their own to jumpstart their campaigns.

Newcomers dominate the top 20, capturing 17 of the top rungs of the campaign finance ladder. Of 120 races, 64 incumbents face no opposition so far in their respective quests to return to office. Of those with no opposition, Republican Rep. Will Weatherford cracked the top 10 total fundraisers with $80,950 in total contributions.

Rep. Dean Cannon, who is expected to become the next Speaker of the House if Republicans - as expected - retain control, raised the most of all incumbent candidates. Cannon, who faces a Democratic challenger in his re-election run, has raised $109,025, though only $8,850 of that came in the last quarter.

Rounding out the rest of the top 10 in overall fundraising for House races through June 30: Italo Zanzi, ($116,849 – District 119), Andrew Jones ($116,306 – District 33), Greg Steube, ($110,165 – District 67), Jason Brodeur ($107,891 – District 33), Jeanette Nunez, ($80,391 – District 112.) and Jeremiah Guccione, ($77,116 District 67.)

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