Democrat leads Florida Senate fundraisers

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In a fundraising quarter in which incumbents were hampered by a prohibition on raising money during a legislative session, several newcomers turned in big Senate fundraising numbers.

The top three cash raisers in Senate races, all of whom pulled in more than $50,000, would all be new in the chamber – two of them new to the Legislature. The biggest haul in the three months that ended March 31 was made by former House member Kevin Rader, now running for a Palm Beach County Senate seat. Rader raised $72,205 during the quarter, his first raising money for the race.

Rader, lives in Delray Beach. His current address would put him in District 25, where he would face another Democrat, sitting Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach. Rader has been critical of Sachs for not being a strong enough Democrat.

Two opponents for District 7 - a race with no incumbent – were the second and third biggest fundraisers. Republican Rob Bradley brought in $68,401, while Democrat Brian Scarborough raised $55,265 in the quarter.

Bradley, a former Clay County commissioner, from Fleming Island, and Scarborough, an insurance company owner from Gainesville, are in a race to win a seat that includes Gainesville and Clay and Bradford counties. The sitting senator who lives in the area, Sen. Steve Oelrich, R-Cross Creek, is running for Congress, and Democrats are hoping to pick up a seat.

There are some incumbents among the top fundraisers for the quarter, despite being hamstrung by a ban on raising money in January and February. Sens. Joe Negron, Don Gaetz, Lizbeth Benacquisto, and John Thrasher, all Republicans, all raised more than $25,000 during the period. Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, just missed that mark, raising $24,700 during the quarter.

Most of the top money raisers were Republicans, but in addition to Scarborough and Rader, Democrat Frank Bruno brought in just over $30,000 in his bid for a Volusia County-based seat.

The list of the top 12 fundraisers for the quarter, with how much they raised in the period, and their total haul to date:

  • Rader, Kevin, Democrat, quarter: $72,205; total: $72,205
  • Bradley, Rob, Republican, $68,401; $68,401
  • Scarborough, Brian , Democrat, $55,265; $55,265
  • Negron, Joe Republican, $42,800; $473,300
  • Gaetz, Don, Republican, $42,750; $472,260
  • Bruno, Frank, Democrat, $30,465; $176,668
  • Galvano, Bill, Republican, $30,035; $378,139
  • Simpson, Wilton, Republican, $29,325; $220,325
  • Benacquisto, Lizbeth, Republican, $28,860; $512,844
  • Myers, Jack, Republican, $26,990; $127,110
  • Thrasher, John, Republican, $26,650; $428,315
  • Duggan, Wyman Russo, Republican, $25,785; $25,785

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