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Here’s where sh*t stands in Tampa Bay state legislative races

in Peter/Top Headlines by

Republican Sens. Tom Lee and Bill Galvano have already won re-election, and fellow GOP incumbent Sens. Jack Latvala and Jeff Brandes only face opposition from write-in candidates in their seats. Of the six Senate seats covering Hillsborough and Pinellas County, only districts 18 and 19 will be home to a new senator in the fall.

Tampa Republican Rep. Dana Young is the front-runner in the SD 18 race in both polling and fundraising, though favorable district lines and robust fundraising from Democratic attorney Bob Buesing mean the race is far from over.

Through Aug. 12, Young had a comfortable lead with nearly $400,000 on hand in her campaign account and another $774,000 on hand in her political committee, “Friends of Dana Young,” while Buesing’s most recent report shows him with $240,000 in the bank, including nearly $100,000 in loans.

Democrats have a slight advantage in voter registrations in the Hillsborough County district, which voted plus-1 for Barack Obama four years. Young and Buesing also face no-party candidates Sheldon Upthegrove and Joe Redner, though neither candidate has seen much success in fundraising.

The SD 19 race will be decided with the Aug. 30 Democratic Primary, and as of Aug. 12, St. Petersburg attorney Augie Ribeiro held a commanding fundraising lead over Reps. Ed Narain and Darryl Rouson, as well as former Rep. Betty Reed.

Ribeiro has supplied the bulk of his own campaign funds, with more than $500,000 in loans or self-contributions since he filed June 23, though he has spent most of that money for an on hand total of $33,761. Narain and Rouson each have about $51,000 in the bank, with Reed coming in at just under $20,000.

Whether Ribeiro’s massive ad buys — he spent nearly $150,000 on media and mailers between Aug. 6 and Aug. 12 — can put him on top of his three opponents remains to be seen, though the winner of the primary should have an easy time toppling lone Republican contender John “Mr. Manners” Houman.

In the House, Republican Reps. Jake Raburn and Jamie Grant and Democratic Rep. Janet Cruz have won re-election without opposition, while fellow incumbents Dan Raulerson, Chris Sprowls, Larry Ahern and Chris Latvala are all dominating their opponents on the fundraising front.

HD 69 Rep. Kathleen Peters has also turned on the afterburners in recent months to shoot past Democratic challenger Jennifer Webb, who she led by about $65,000 as of Aug. 12.

While Republican Rep. Ross Spano still leads in the HD 59 race, Democrat Rene Frazier has crossed the $100,000 on hand mark and only trails the incumbent by about $6,000.

Frazier, an attorney, still must get past schoolteacher Naze Sahebzamani in the Democratic Primary, however. As of her last report, she trailed Frazier with about $19,000 on hand.

HD 63 could also flip this cycle, as it did in 2012 and in 2014, though Republican Rep. Shawn Harrison has held on to the fundraising lead.

According to his most recent report, the two-time representative has about $116,000 in the bank compared to $84,000 for former Democratic Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione.

Montelione no longer faces primary opponent Mike Reedy, who dropped out of the race, so she and Harrison have already begun the sprint toward Election Day.

Most of the rest of the Bay Area’s seats should be decided during the Aug. 30 primary election, including who will replace Young in HD 60, Rouson in HD 70 and Democratic Rep. Dwight Dudley in HD 68.

Republican Rebecca Smith has about $133,000 in the bank in the contest to take over for Young, compared to $61,000 for fellow Republican Jackie Toledo. Smith also picked up endorsements from top state level Republicans Adam Putnam and Jeff Atwater.

No matter who makes it out of the primary, they face stiff odds against lone Democratic candidate David Singer, though he has been able to amass a $67,000 war chest since filing for the seat in April.

In the HD 70 race St. Petersburg City Councilman Wengay Newton is the only candidate with money in his campaign account. His $22,000 on-hand total bests fellow Democrats CJ Czaia, who is $100 in the red, and Dan Fiorini, who has about $1,400.

Republican Cori Fournier is also running for the Democratic stronghold and has about $100 on hand.

In HD 68, Democrats Ben Diamond and Eric Lynn have been in a major spending battle, with Diamond nearly burning through all but about $14,000 of his $238,000 in fundraising thus far.

Lynn, who entered the race in May after dropping out of the CD 13 contest, has about $88,000 of his fundraising total, leaving him with about $20,000 in the bank Aug. 12.

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Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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