When former Rep. Aaron Bean won a nasty Republican primary in August, it looked like he might have cleared the biggest hurdle in his bid to represent northeast Florida in the state Senate.
But new campaign-finance reports show Bean still faces a challenge.
Democrat Nancy Soderberg, a Jacksonville Beach college professor and former national-security official in the Clinton administration, raised $32,589 between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28, the reports show. Maybe more importantly, her campaign shelled out $75,000 for television ad time.
Meanwhile, a political committee linked to Soderberg, the Principled Leadership for Florida PAC, raised another $47,080 during the period. Overall, Soderberg has raised $155,055 for her campaign, while the committee has collected $110,630 --- including $10,000 last month from New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Bean still likely has major advantages in the newly redrawn Senate District 4, which includes Nassau County and a large part of Duval County. The area has been a Republican stronghold, repeatedly electing GOP legislative candidates in recent years.
A Fernandina Beach resident, Bean raised $46,330 between Sept. 15 and Sept. 28 and also has the backing of incoming Senate President Don Gaetz and other Senate Republican leaders who can help funnel outside money to the race.
Gaetz acknowledged this week that he is concerned about District 4 and pointed to Soderberg's ability to raise money. Bean has raised an overall total of $597,057, but he reported spending $525,485, mostly during his fierce primary fight with Rep. Mike Weinstein, R-Jacksonville.
On Oct. 15, Gaetz and other Senate Republican leaders are scheduled to hold a fund-raising event for Bean at the home of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida Vice President Mike Hightower, who has long been a major Republican fund-raiser. A copy of the invitation posted online by The Florida Times-Union shows that many other top GOP fund-raisers and political figures from Northeast Florida also are on a host committee.
While Soderberg topped $30,000 during the fund-raising period, two other Democrats in high-profile Senate races, Frank Bruno and Maria Sachs, fell far short of that total.
Bruno, the chairman of the Volusia County Council, raised $9,630 for his District 8 race against Rep. Dorothy Hukill, a Port Orange Republican who raised $32,114. The newly redrawn District 8 includes most of Volusia County, a large chunk of Marion County and a corner of Lake County.
Similarly, Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton, reported raising $7,250 during the most-recent period in her District 34 race against Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale. Bogdanoff raised $39,366. Reapportionment put the two incumbents together in the district, which includes parts of Palm Beach and Broward counties.
State candidates faced a Friday deadline for filing updated campaign-finance reports, which continued to trickle in early Friday evening.
Some reports indicated that the state Republican Party has started funneling money to House races that, at least until now, have received relatively little attention.
As examples, the party wrote $49,000 checks to the campaigns of Reps. Larry Ahern, R-St. Petersburg, and Shawn Harrison, R-Tampa, the reports show. Similarly, it gave $25,000 to Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, and $15,000 to Rep. Tom Goodson, R-Rockledge.
Also, the reports show the party gave $25,000 to Fort Pierce Republican Michelle Miller, who is trying to win an open seat in House District 84 in St. Lucie County. That made up almost all of the $27,860 that Miller raised during the period as she runs against Fort Pierce Democrat Larry Lee, Jr.