15 things I think I think about the latest campaign finance reports

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Florida legislative candidates, as well as political committees, had until Monday to report their campaign finance activity for the month of July. Now that the figures are in, here are 10 things I think I think about these latest reports.

— The first thing I think I think is that all of this special session-ing must be playing havoc with Florida legislators’ ability to raise money at full speed. With another special session planned for October and an early session set for January, it will be interesting to see if major donors can get to March without having to ante up at the same level as previous cycles.

— Remember when John Morgan produced a YouTube video of him writing a big check to “People United for Medical Marijuana,” the committee hoping to pass a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana? In that video, he said the check was for $150,000. Well, it looks like Morgan kicked in a lot more than that. The Morgan Firm PA contributed almost $704,000 in July to PUMM. Most of that money — $687,000 — went right back out the door to California-based PCI Consultants, which does petition-gathering.

— In the latest chapter of House Latvala vs. House Negron, it was a relative slow month. Joe Negron’s PAC, Treasure Coast Alliance, brought in $55,000 for the month, compared to $23,858 for Jack Latvala’s Florida Leadership Committee. The numbers are a far cry from Negron’s $623,550 showing in May or Latvala’s $487,625 haul in February, though both committees still have more than $1 million on hand for the 2016 cycle.

— Speaking of future Senate presidents, Senate Approps Chairman Tom Lee sure would like to be one again — and his efforts in July reflect his ambitions. The Brandon Republican’s committee, “The Conservative,” raised $120,000 in July, highlighted by $40,000 from two committees affiliated with Associated Industries of Florida.

— When will you be turning in your fundraising report, state Rep. Betty Reed? It’s still not filed. Your likely SD 19 opponent, Darryl Rouson, raised $6,275 in July, bringing his to-date total to $22,600. Of course, with the state Senate districts to be redrawn in October, it’s unlikely Reed and Rouson will be running against each other in 2016.

— With the Legislature meeting in October to redraw the lines of the state Senate districts, it’s not exactly clear what will be the boundaries of District 40. But that didn’t stop state Rep. Erik Fresen from raising more than $109,000 in July. His list of contributors reads like a Who’s Who of Adams Street with checks from lobbyists Ron Book, Louis Betz, Dean Cannon, Dave Custin, Rhett ODoski, Ron Pierce, Sean Pittman, Ken Pruitt, Larry Williams, Laura Boehmer, Dave Sheep, and Stacey Webb. Fresen, the chairman of the House Education Appropriations Subcommittee, also received several contributions from this industry, including a $1,000 check from prominent ed. reform advocate and investor John Kirtley.

— For former state Rep. Loranne Ausley, fundraising is like riding a bike. No matter how long it’s been since you last did it, all you have to do is get back on the bike and start pedaling. And pedaling Ausley is doing. She raised $6,005 for her return bid to HD 9, giving her more than $93K raised to-date.

— With another $6,800 raised for his HD 16 campaign, Republican Jason Fischer is now in six-figures-raised territory. Fischer’s primary opponent, Dick Kravitz, raised just $1,600 in July, bringing him to $28,950 total.

— One of the hottest legislative races this cycle will be in House District 19, which includes parts of Bradford, Clay, Putnam and Union counties. In HD 19, former RPOF Chairwoman Leslie Dougher is facing off against Katherine Van Zant, wife of the current office-holder Charles Van Zant. Both appear to be strong fundraisers: Dougher raised $22,796 during July, while Van Zant brought in $21,295, pushing her overall total to $52,330. Much of Van Zant’s money raised this month was at a show-of-strength event headlined by Will Weatherford, former Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton, state Sen. Anitere Flores, former Duval GOP Chair Mike Hightower, Ambassador John Rood, and local power players W.W. GayJay DemetreeMarty Fiorentino, and Mac McGehee.

— How is it that incumbent Republican Bob Cortes can work so hard at his small business (check out this tweet here) and still manage to be one of the top fundraisers? Cortes raised $21,149 for his HD 30 re-election campaign.

— Supposedly, HD 63 Republican Shawn Harrison is in danger of losing his seat during a presidential cycle because that’s when his district trends Democratic. Well don’t tell that to his donors, who appear to be supportive of Harrison’s re-election. He has already raised $40,000 for his re-election, with $15,850 coming in July. The highly touted Mike Reedy, reportedly one of Florida Democrats’ best hopes, raised just $885.

— Unless we’re missing something, Sarasota Democrat Ed James was the top overall fundraiser — incumbent or challenger — during the month of July. James raised $26,388 for his HD 72 campaign.

— With all of the uncertainty in Sarasota politics, it’s no surprise that the fundraising of Republican Joe Gruters, who raised nearly $90,000 in June, slowed down in July. Still Gruters was able to raise $7,060 last month.

— Keep an eye on HD 106 candidate Robert Rommel, who raised $14,000 during his first month on the campaign trail. Neither of his opponents, Georgia Hiller or NPA candidate Brandon Smith, raised any money in July.

— Incumbent state Rep. Michael Bileca is taking no chances with his re-election bid in HD 115. The Miami Republican loaned $60K to his campaign.

Any other July fundraising hauls stand 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.