Thrasher Was Among Top Senate Fundraisers Statewide
Faced with an intense intra-party battle, newly elected Sen. John Thrasher raised and spent more money than any other Senate candidate during the latest campaign reporting period, state election records show.
Thrasher, R-St. Augustine, spent $652,000 in a successful bid to replace the late Jim King, the Jacksonville Republican whose death earlier this year prompted a four-way GOP slug fest in the northeastern Florida district.
Facing well-financed opponents and a last-minute run by an opponent backed by groups linked to Florida trial attorneys, Thrasher raised nearly $400,000 in the weeks leading up to the Sept. 15 primary, which for all practical purposes sealed his win as he faced only write-in opposition in the general election.
Thrasher’s race eclipsed that of Sen. Joe Negron, another Republican former House member who also won a seat to the 40-member Senate in a special election. Negron, R-Stuart, spent $418,000 in his campaign to replace Sen. Ken Pruitt, R-Port St. Lucie, who retired early from the seat he would have relinquished in November 2010.
Negron blew out his Democratic opponent in the Aug. 4 general election, taking more than 76 percent of the vote in the traditional Republican stronghold.
Among still active candidates, Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, raised more than any other as he added to an already sizable war chest with $335,890 in contributions for the quarter ending Sept. 30. Rivera, who faces fellow Republican Anitere Flores for the Senate District 38 seat, has amassed $732,729 since opening his campaign in December.
Flores had a strong third quarter as well, pulling in nearly $153,000 to bring her total to $321,000.
In contrast, incumbent Sen. Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, faces no opposition in her district. She’s raised $32,950, the least amount for an incumbent seeking re-election.
But having an opponent is not a requirement. Among the top four fundraisers are incumbent Sens. Don Gaetz, R Fort Walton Beach and Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne. They raised $230,600 and $228,015 respectfully, though neither faces opposition.
But both are in line or vying to become Senate President. Haridopolos is slated to succeed Sen. Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, who will preside over the chamber during his final session in March.
On Wednesday, Haridopolos said he continues to actively campaign and raise funds despite a campaign account totaling $439,000 and no opposition so far in his bid for re-election. He’s spent $184,000 to get his message to voters via television and other media, exposure his constituents have come to expect.
“I run a continuous campaign,” Haridopolos said. “You don’t want to have to re-introduce yourself every four years.”