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Along the Campaign Trail: First Quarter Results Trickle In

With campaigns having finished up the first fundraising quarter of the election year this past week, last minute begging abounded, counting is now ongoing, and a few totals are starting to leak out ahead of the actual reporting deadline. Several candidates sent out increasingly desperate sounding - and sometimes annoying - pleas for just a little bit more that filled up inboxes around the state on Wednesday, the last day of the year. Last minute appeals for campaign dough this past week included one from Alex Sink who was seeking to raise $25,000 on Wednesday for her gubernatorial race - and apparently reached it, leading to an addendum goal of raising $2,500 in the last several hours leading up to midnight. The News Service received blast E-mail solicitations from Senate campaigns, and several Cabinet post seekers (sorry, we seem to be light at the moment - maybe try us next quarter.)

A big question of course, is whether Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio's surge in various polls will be matched by a surge in campaign giving, He's caught - and passed - Gov. Charlie Crist in some polls, but had a lot of catching up to do on the money front as well. At the end of last year, Crist had more than $7.5 million in the bank to $2 million for Rubio. Democrat Kendrick Meek is hoping they spend a lot of it on each other. None of the three major candidates in the Senate race has announced their amount.

Here's a rundown of what we've gleaned so far about what candidates are likely to report:

Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp's campaign for attorney general announced he pulled in just over $270,000 in the quarter, bringing his total since announcing he's in the race to about $660,000. His Republican opponents, Pam Bondi and Holly Benson are still counting.

One major legislative candidate has trumpeted a pretty strong fundraising number: former Senator - and current Senate candidate Jack Latvala is likely going to report that he's now raised more than a half million dollars in his bid to replace Sen. Charlie Justice, D-St. Petersburg, who is running for Congress. On Thursday, Latvala, a St. Petersburg Republican, tweeted: “Not finished counting yet, but am sure we are over 500K raised.” On Friday, Latvala said it appears his campaign will be “somewhere north” of $70,000 for the quarter.

One of the first campaigns to announce its first quarter campaign haul was the attorney general campaign of Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres. Aronberg announced his campaign brought in $260,000 his best quarter so far - but it's worth pointing out that that was a two-month total because Aronberg couldn't raise money during March because of the rule prohibiting lawmakers from raising campaign dollars for a state race while the Legislature is in session. Aronberg's Democratic opponent, Sen. Dan Gelber, faces the same restriction. A Gelber spokesman said his numbers will be released on Monday.

The Orlando Sentinel cited a source close to the Bruce O'Donoghue campaign in reporting that the Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson will report more than $300,000 in his first full quarter in the race. Other Republicans bidding to try to unseat Grayson include state Rep. Kurt Kelly and attorney Todd Long. Whatever they raise, they're going to have a tough time matching Grayson. The outspoken Democratic firebrand raised $470,000 in one day last month and finished 2009 with almost $1 million on hand.

CQ Politics reported Friday that former state Rep. Dennis Ross will report having raised $160,000 in the first quarter in his bid to follow U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam representing the 12th congressional district, citing a source in the Ross campaign. That will give Ross about $350,000 in cash on hand. Ross has a primary race against Polk County Commissioner Randy Wilkinson and another former state lawmaker, Democrat Lori Edwards is in the race. Edwards has taken heat for raising less than $40,000 in each of the last two quarters. Democrat Doug Tudor, who did surprisingly well against Putnam in 2008 is also in the race. CQ Politics reported this week that Tudor raised about $27,000 in the first quarter.

And in national fundraising news, the Republican Governors Association raised $9 million in the first quarter, topping the Democratic Governors Association’s $8 million figure, Politico reported on Friday. That gives the RGA $31 million on hand, topping the DGA’s $22 million.

Stuart News columnist Eve Samples reports that Martin County Sheriff Robert Crowder is considering challenging Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart. Crowder says Negron hsan't done enough on children's issues for his liking, and cited a specific bill that negron is pushing that would require certain counties to hold referenda on whether to continue local children's services councils. Crowder says in the column that he'll make up his mind in about six weeks.

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