TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Fundraising appeared to slow last month as candidates seeking to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam ramp up ads and appearances before the Aug. 28 primary election.
And it would have been slower if the Florida Chamber of Commerce had not split $30,000 in contributions between political committees linked to three Republicans running for agriculture commissioner --- Rep. Matt Caldwell, Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Rep. Baxter Troutman, according to finance reports posted on the state Division of Elections website covering the period June 1 to June 22.
Meanwhile, Democrat Nikki Fried, who entered the race last month, posted $44,754 in contributions and loans to her campaign account in her first report.
Florida Consumers First, a political committee linked to Fried, raised another $43,400 from June 1 through June 22 --- more than half from cannabis-related agriculture and dispensing businesses --- and had raised an overall total of $101,900.
Candidates and political committees were required by the end of last week to file reports showing finance activity through June 22. Candidates running for statewide offices, such as agriculture commissioner, and committees face another deadline Friday to file reports showing activity through June 29.
Troutman, a former House member from Winter Haven who has pumped $3 million of his own money into the campaign, posted $26,725 in contributions to his campaign account and the committee iGrow during the three-week span, while he spent $53,727, mostly on consulting.
Troutman, who had a combined total of $1.47 million on hand as of June 22, did not appear at the Republican Party of Florida’s “Sunshine Summit” last week, unlike other Cabinet candidates. Becky Troutman, the candidate’s wife, appeared in his place and said he was attending a previously scheduled event in Miami.
Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, posted $42,925 in contributions during the recent period to his campaign account and the committee Friends of Matt Caldwell. The campaign and committee spent $77,870 in the same period and had a combined total of $1.2 million on hand.
Grimsley, a Sebring Republican who on June 22 had a combined total of just over $1 million on hand in her campaign account and the Saving Florida’s Heartland political committee, raised $72,015 between June 1 and June 22 while spending $71,005.
For Caldwell and Grimsley, the Florida Chamber’s $10,000 contributions were the only money that came into their respective political committees during the three-week span.
For Troutman, his iGrow political committee also got $10,000 from the Florida Prosperity Fund, which is tied to the business group Associated Industries of Florida.
The Florida Chamber and Associated Industries of Florida, through various political committees, have funneled tens of thousands of dollars to Caldwell, Grimsley and Troutman throughout the campaign.
A fourth Republican in the primary, Mike McCalister, a Plant City businessman and retired Army National Guard and Reserves colonel, loaned his campaign $7,738 during the recent filing period. The money allowed him to cover the cost of qualifying for the Republican primary during last month’s formal qualifying period.
The owner-operator of a small tree farm, McCalister also posted a single $100 donation from a retired Boca Raton resident during the three-week period.
McCalister, who ran for governor in 2010 and the U.S. Senate in 2012, had $1,903 on hand as of June 22.
Reports for the filing period for Democratic candidates Jeff Porter, the Homestead mayor, and David Walker, a biological scientist from Fort Lauderdale, were not available.