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Dennis Baxley outshines GOP rivals in fundraising for SD 12 race

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Ocala Rep. Dennis Baxley outraised the other two Republicans vying for the open Senate District 12 seat with $27,030 in May contributions.

With another month in the books Baxley, who currently represents House District 23, has brought in more than $500,000 in donations since he started campaigning in earnest back in July 2014.

His May contributions, however, were outshined by his expenditures, which totaled $57,154.

Baxley’s May report showed 22 checks for the campaign maximum of $1,000, including contributions from five Disney subsidiaries. Also on the list were Gainesville construction company Charles Perry Partners with a $1,000 contribution and current HD15 Republican Rep. Jay Fant, who chipped in $500.

The bulk of Baxley’s expenditures went to Tallahassee-based Front Line Strategies, which took home a $50,000 payment last month for advertising services, with another $2,647 heading to Clearwater-based Direct Mail Systems for a mailer campaign.

The May performance left the third-term representative with $341,454 in his campaign account, including $260,000 in loans, putting him far ahead of his competitors, fellow Republican Rep. Marlene O’Toole, and Villages Republican David E. Gee.

O’Toole, who entered the race in March, added another $19,700 last month and spent $6,638, leaving her with just shy of $70,000 in her campaign account at the end of the month.

Among the 51 May contributions included a pair of $1,000 checks from mega-lobbyist Ron Book and his company, and another pair of maximum checks from Sarasota-based insurance company FCCI and one of its subsidiaries.

Nearly all of O’Toole’s spending — her initial expenditures since filing — went toward payments and reimbursements for her campaign manager, Austin Locke.

Gee, who made a splash in April by loaning his campaign $105,000, managed to bring in just $1,660 in May and spent $10,209, for an on hand total of $88,315 after two full months in the race.

The bulk of that money came from a pair of Villages retirees, while about $6,600 in spending went toward web support, software and campaign signage.

The newly redrawn SD12 carries a substantial Republican advantage and includes the southern half of Marion, northern Lake and all of Sumter counties. About 45 percent of the district’s electorate are registered Republican, with 35 percent belonging to the Democratic Party.

Back in 2012, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney won the district with 61.5 percent of the vote — one of his best performances outside of the staunchly Republican panhandle region.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. While at the University of Florida, Wilson was an editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and after graduation, he moved to Los Angeles to cover business deals for The Hollywood Reporter. Before joining Extensive Enterprises, Wilson covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools.

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