With slightly more than four months until the general election, the money machines behind Rick Scott and Charlie Crist are taking different approaches.
The “Let’s Get to Work” political committee, which has played a key role in bankrolling Scott’s political ambitions, spent about $3.94 million on advertising during the first three weeks of June, as backers of the Republican incumbent governor continue ramping up a broadcast war.
Meanwhile, “Charlie Crist for Florida,” a committee backing the Democratic challenger, continued keeping its powder dry. The committee spent $406,771 during the first part of June — funneling $400,000 of that amount to the Florida Democratic Party and none to advertising.
The candidates and the closely aligned committees filed updated campaign-finance reports Friday that showed how much money they took in and how much they spent from June 1 to June 20. In many ways, the three-week fundraising period followed familiar patterns from earlier in the year.
Scott’s campaign and the Let’s Get to Work committee combined to raise nearly $1.1 million during the three weeks, with the total almost evenly divided between the two pots of cash. As of June 20, the Scott campaign had raised an overall total of $5,249, 490, while Let’s Get to Work had raised $28,592,127.
The committee also had spent a total of $16.9 million through June 20, with much of that going to advertising. For example, in addition to the $3.94 million spent during the first part of June, it spent about $3.1 million on advertising in May and $5.1 million in April.
Crist’s campaign and the Charlie Crist for Florida committee, meanwhile, raised a combined total of $709,111 in cash from June 1 to June 20, with $484,020 of that total going to the committee. As of June 20, the campaign had raised an overall total of $3.9 million, while the committee had raised $8,718,600.
Before he could face Scott in the Nov. 4 general election, Crist would have to beat former state Senate Minority Leader Nan Rich in the Democratic primary. But the newly filed reports continue to show Rich struggling to raise money. Rich collected $12,580 during the first three weeks of June for her campaign account, giving it an overall total of $391,238.
Campaigns are restricted by $3,000 limits on individual contributions, but the committees don’t face the same restrictions. Let’s Get to Work, for instance, received $100,000 contributions during the first three weeks of June from U.S. Sugar Corp., the Jacksonville-based Hutson Companies and H. Gary Morse, developer of The Villages in Central Florida, according to the reports.
Similarly, Florida Fire-PAC, a political arm of the Florida Professional Firefighters, contributed $97,000 to the Charlie Crist for Florida committee, the reports show.
The campaign-finance reports offer a partial picture of how money is flowing in a race that has drawn attention — and contributors — from across the country. But the reports do not offer the same kind of insight into how the political parties and outside groups are preparing to try to influence the race.
The Republican Party of Florida has repeatedly signaled that it is raising large amounts of money that can go toward helping re-elect Scott. On the other side, the Florida Democratic Party, which for years has trailed the GOP in campaign cash, touted collecting $1.1 million during a major fundraising event Saturday that included a keynote speech by former President Bill Clinton.
–Jim Saunders, News Service of Florida