11 state Senate candidates to watch as the fundraising reports roll in

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Florida candidates face a Friday deadline for filing reports showing their campaign finance activity through June 30.

While some reports are already public, here are 12 candidates to watch as the fundraising reports roll in.

How fat is Matt Gaetz‘ wallet? With Bay County Commissioner George Gainer expected to file soon to challenge him for the Senate District 1 seat, Gaetz would like as far a head start as possible. He’s currently at $563K raised; did he get to $600K? One thing is for certain, Jack Latvala, expected to be a backer of Gainer, will be watching to see how much Gaetz raised.

In District 5, Republican state Reps. Dennis Baxley and Jimmie Smith are both running to replace state Sen. Charlie Dean, and so far Baxley is winning. Through May, the Ocala lawmaker had raised $143,825 to Smith’s $56,997. Baxley’s burn rate is also lower – when measuring cash on hand he beats Smith $123,000 to $34,496. Both candidates’ fundraising was probably hamstrung by having to be in Tallahassee for Special Session, but Smith needs to start closing the gap on Baxley.

Dean Asher is already turning heads in the race for Senate District 13, having raised through his campaign and his committee more than $164K in June. Will that be enough to keep current Senate President Andy Gardiner’s wife, Camille, from entering the race? Probably not.

If Pinellas’ Darryl Rouson is going to beat Hillsborough’s Betty Reed for Athenia Joyner’s Hillsborough-centric District 19 seat, he’ll need to have at least a two- or three-to-one cash advantage, no matter how sluggish a campaigner Reed is. Both candidates are off to a slow start. Let’s see if either turned on the fundraising charm post-session.

The same situation is playing out in District 31, where Democratic state Rep. Gwyn Clarke-Reed is facing off against former state Rep. Perry Thurston. The Broward County seat, currently held by state Sen. Chris Smith, is probably his for the taking. He sits at $31,950 in contributions through the end of May. Clarke-Reed filed for the seat in early June, so there are no fundraising numbers for her yet.

One seat in which the cash is already flowing is Senate District 23, where Republican state Reps. Matt Hudson and Kathleen Passidomo are running to replace Naples Republican Garrett Richter. The latest campaign finance reports put Hudson at $231,588 and Passidomo at $91,000 cash on hand. A third candidate, Gary Price, filed for the race in May and posted an impressive $64,250 in contributions his first month. Price may leverage the fact that he wasn’t involved in the early Sine Die to vault past Hudson and Passidomo, but it’s hard to predict how that strategy will play with voters this far out.

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.