TAMPA — Gov. Rick Scott and the state Republican Party say they have raised a massive $17.1 million in campaign funds in the first three months of 2014.
The total signals a shift in Scott’s fundraising strategy -- putting more emphasis on raising money for the party, which can accept unlimited donations and then get a discount on political advertising.
Campaign reports detailing the precise amounts haven’t been filed yet, but according to a party news release, the totals were $10.3 million for the Republican Party of Florida; $2.7 million for Rick Scott for Florida, Scott’s official re-election campaign; and $4.1 million for Let’s Get To Work, his independent political committee.
The biggest chunk of that money, the party’s $10.3 million, won’t all be used just for Scott’s re-election.
About 60 percent was raised by Scott, in fundraising events or solicitations, said a party spokeswoman. That money likely will be used mainly to benefit his campaign.
But the total also includes money raised by other Republican officeholders and party activists, including state Cabinet members and legislative leaders, who raise money to benefit the campaigns of their party’s legislative candidates.
It’s illegal for party money to be designated to benefit any one candidate, but by custom, insiders in both parties say, the parties spend on candidates roughly in the proportions that they raise money for the party.
The $10.3 million party total compares to $7.6 million raised by the GOP, and $2.7 million by the state Democratic Party, in the first quarter of 2010, the last mid-term election year.
In his 2010 race, Scott concentrated his fundraising on his independent political committee, Let’s Get to Work.
He has switched to raising money for the party apparently because, unlike the committee, the party can buy TV ads that qualify for discounts from television stations under federal regulations.
Candidates’ official campaign committees also qualify for those discounts but have limits on the size of contributions they can accept.
Scott’s likely Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, hasn’t released fundraising totals yet.
Kevin Cate, spokesman for the campaign of Scott’s likely Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist, commented, “Rick Scott has aways had and always will have more money than a campaign focused on people.”