TAMPA — Quarterly fundraising reports filed in Tallahassee on Thursday illuminate the big advantage Republicans are likely to have heading into this year’s governor’s race, in which Gov. Rick Scott will fight for re-election against likely Democratic opponent, former Gov. Charlie Crist.
Combining fundraising by their state parties, their campaign organizations and the independent committees backing each candidate, Scott and the Republican side raised about three times as much as Crist and the Democratic side in the first three months of 2014.
The fundraising totals, according to news releases and financial reports filed with the state Division of Elections:
♦ On the Republican side, the state party raised $10,371,774 in the first quarter; Scott’s independent committee, Let’s Get to Work, raised about $4.1 million, according to a news release; and his campaign brought in about $2,515,925. The total: about $17 million.
♦ On the Democratic side, Crist’s independent committee, Charlie Crist for Florida, raised $2,395,520; the state Democratic Party raised $2,155,205; and the Crist campaign raised about $1,252,336. The total: $5,803,061.
“It speaks volumes that in this important election year the Republican Party of Florida raised almost five times as much as the Florida Democratic Party,” said state Republican Party executive director Juston Johnson in a news release.
Democrats, however, say Crist is raising more money than any Democrat ever has in running for governor, and that he’ll be competitive with “a people’s campaign” even if Scott raises substantially more money.
“I know that we’ll be competitive. I’ve never raised as much as I’ve raised right now at this point in the campaign,” Crist said of the two sides’ fundraising in a news conference in Tampa last week. “The thing I’m really proud of is the number of people that have joined our campaign -- small donations are significant as you would expect for a Democrat. ... When somebody gives $25, it means a lot to that person who’s doing it.”
The fundraising figures indicate a shift in fundraising tactics by Scott.
He has shifted much of his fundraising energy to raising money for the state Republican Party. In Florida law, a party can accept unlimited contributions, while a campaign organization faces contribution limits. But like the campaign, the party also gets a substantial discount on buying television ads.