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Crist Raises $1.8 Million, Greene Spends $5.8 Million

Gov. Charlie Crist raised more money for his Senate campaign in his first quarter as a candidate without a party than he did in his last full fundraising quarter as a Republican.

Crist raised $1.8 million between the end of March and the end of June. Still, while showing he doesn’t appear to have lost momentum by leaving the GOP, his cash haul was far behind the record quarter posted by former House Speaker Marco Rubio, the Republican candidate whose surge in the polls in the spring is credited with chasing Crist from the GOP primary.

And Crist’s fundraising remains far off his early promise, when he was seen as the likely GOP nominee last year and topped $4 million in his first quarter in the race.

But Crist appeared to be bolstered by his switch to a no-party affiliation candidate, topping the $1.1 million he raised in the first three months of 2010, his last full quarter as a member of the Republican Party.

The governor’s campaign said the money came from supporters of across the political spectrum.

“Democrats, Republicans and Independents from across Florida and across the country are saying that they want a new type of leadership in Washington, and they want Charlie Crist,” Crist campaign manager Margaret Wood said in a statement.

Crist’s campaign pointed to a large increase in small-internet donors since he left the GOP, saying that its online contributions had increased 650 percent since he announced his NPA run.

Crist’s campaign trumpeted his total cash-on-hand as much as his quarterly take. Buoyed by money he got when Rubio looked like a quixotic long shot, Crist is sitting on a hefty $8.2 million on hand for the election this fall. Rubio’s campaign has not yet released its cash-on-hand numbers, though he spent more in 2009 than Crist did as Rubio crisscrossed the state to catch up in Republican primary polls

Crist had been the most prodigious three-month fundraiser in the country this election cycle and in state campaign history when he took in $4.3 million during his first quarter in the race last year. But Rubio took in a whopping $4.5 million between the end of March and the end of June to take that distinction.

Real estate investor Jeff Greene spent $5.8 million of his own money during first two months of the campaign.

On the Democratic side of the Senate race, self-financed candidate Jeff Greene revealed he spent $5.8 million of his own money in the first quarter since he entered the party’s primary against U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek. Greene, a wealthy real estate investor who has used a slew of television ads to pull nearly even with Meek in most polls, only raised $3,036 in the three-month span from donors.

His campaign said the contributions were unsolicited and came from small-dollar donors who believe in Greene’s message.

“He’s not asking for any contributions,” Greene spokesman Luis Vizcaino told the News Service of Florida. “Those are from individuals that wanted to support his candidacy. It’s very humbling.”

Kendrick Meek, who reported raising more than $1 million from more than 7,000 contributors, pointed to the wide discrepancy between Greene’s expenditure and fundraising reports as evidence Greene was trying to buy the Democratic nomination.

“Jeff Greene has a supporter of one - himself. Using the money he made off the backs of middle-class homeowners, he is trying to buy a Florida Senate seat,” Meek communications director Adam Sharon said in a statement.

But Vizcaino said that recent developments in the race show that Greene’s unconventional strategy is working.

“When you see the amount he has spent, the investment, and the return, where he is in polls, I think we’re doing very well,” Vizcaino said. “He’s in a statistical tie with Kendrick Meek, who’s been campaigning for a year and half, in just two months. Our message is resonating.”

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