TALLAHASSEE — Driven by a record-setting governor’s race, campaign contributions are rolling in this election cycle at a higher clip than the 2010 cycle, the last time Florida had a gubernatorial race.
Statewide, there have been $150.5 million in contributions, most of it to candidates, committees or state political parties. That is up nearly $9 million from a similar time frame during the 2010 cycle.
Political observers say a new law increasing the amount a donor can give to an individual candidate along with a big-money governor’s race is helping set the tone.
Statewide candidates can now accept $3,000 checks, while lower-level candidates can receive up to $1,000 contributions. Both caps were at $500 prior to new limits passed during the 2013 legislative session.
“I think it goes back to increases in higher limits,” said Justin Day of Tampa, a Democrat fundraiser, who has raised money for, among others, President Barack Obama. “Those are really driving things.”
He said the increase in candidates and organizations setting up campaign committees that they control is also a contributing factor. Those committees can collect unlimited campaign contributions.
“Previously, they (donors) may have felt less comfortable writing checks to political committees. That’s changing,” Day said.
In the Tampa area, the state has recorded $47 million more in contributions than last year. A portion of that increase is driven by candidates and companies transferring funds from “committees of continuous existence,” which the Legislature has outlawed, to new political committees. Those transfers show up as contributions but don’t represent new money in the system.
Leading the way is a swatch of high-priced real estate that includes Davis Islands, according to a ZIP code analysis of campaign contributions conducted by the Tribune/Scripps Capitol Bureau.
That area has so far given $3 million this election cycle, up by roughly $1 million compared to the 2010 cycle. Another big jump came from an area that includes downtown St. Petersburg. So far this cycle, the area has given $753,373, up roughly $570,000 from 2010.