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Denise Grimsley raises $260K in March for 2018 Ag. Commissioner bid

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Sen. Denise Grimsley raised more than $260,000 in just one week toward her 2018 Agriculture Commissioner bid, far outpacing the only other Republican candidate in the race.

But state campaign finance record show Grimsley could face stiff fundraising competition from Rep. Matt Caldwell, whose political committee raised more than $224,000 in the same one-week period.

State campaign finance records show Grimsley, a Sebring Republican, raised a combined $260,756 between March 1 and March 6, the eve of the 2017 Legislative Session. Grimsley brought in $85,008 to her official campaign account; her political committee, Saving Florida’s Heartland, brought in $176,000.

Records show Innovate Florida, Sen. Bill Galvano’s political committee, gave Grimsley’s committee $50,000, making it the top contributor during the fundraising period. The committee also received a $25,000 contribution from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, which is linked to Associated Industries of Florida. Other top donors included the Florida Prosperity Fund, Costa Nursery Farms, OD-EYE PAC, and the Jacksonville Kennel Club.

Grimsley ended the one-month period with nearly $276,000 cash on hand in her official campaign account, and more than $450,000 cash on hand in her political committee.

Grimsley announced in February she was running for Agriculture Commissioner. A fifth generation Floridians, Grimsley was first elected to the Florida House in 2004, where she served until 2012. She was elected to the Senate in 2012, and easily won re-election in 2016.

So far the only other Republican to file to run for the seat is Orlando Republican Paul Paulson. State campaign finance records show Paulson raised no money in March.

Paulson, however, is far from the only Republican eyeing the race. In February, Caldwell, a North Fort Myers Republican, said he intended to file to run for Agriculture Commissioner in August. That’s meant to honor a request from House Speaker Richard Corcoran that members of his leadership team hold off filing to run for higher office until after the legislative session.

State records show Caldwell’s political committee — Friends of Matt Caldwell — raised $224,980 between March 1 and March 6, the day before the start of the 2017 Legislative Session. The committee received $25,000 from Six L’s Pack Company and $20,000 from Troyer Bros. FL.

The committee ended the fundraising period with more than $659,000 cash on hand.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam can’t run for re-election because of term limits. He’s widely expected to announce a 2018 gubernatorial bid.

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