Eric Eisnaugle opens huge fundraising lead in HD 44 special election

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Candidates in a special election to replace former state Rep. Steve Precourt faced a Friday deadline to file campaign-finance reports. With all of the checks totaled up, former state Rep. Eric Eisnaugle has a huge financial lead over his (nominal) opponents, Republican Vicky Bell and Democrat Shaun Raja.

Eisnaugle collected $72,150 during the month of January to go with the approximate $172,000 he had already raised for the general election race. To date, Eisnaugle has collected nearly $246,000 for his bid to return to the Florida House.

Among those donating to the warchest of Eisnaugle — a likely contender for House Speaker in the next decade — is a veritable who’s who of Tallahassee and Orlando power borkers, including $4,000 from the lobbyists at Southern Strategy Group, as well as checks from Altria, Cardenas Partners, Floridian Partners, the Florida Homebuilders Association, the Florida Restaurant Association, GrayRobinson, JM Family, Bob Levy, TECO, Walt Disney Co. Three dozen medical doctors also contributed to Eisnaugle, meaning the Florida Medical Association is being as helpful as possible.

Eisnaugle’s expenditures include (in addition to advertising on this blog), payments to John Dowless’ firm, Millennium Consulting, and SRH Media.

Even after $58,652 in expenditures so far, Eisnaugle has over $196,786 cash-on hand for the special election. That should be more than enough to deal with Bell, who raised just $1,800, loaned her campaign $2,000 and spent 1,781 and Raja, who, after raising $3,232 and spending $3,109, has just over $100 cash-on-hand.

The Republican primary will be held March 11, while the special general election will be held April 8.

Precourt resigned last month after being chosen to become executive director of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority. Precourt, who was slated to leave the House this fall because of term limits, did not end up taking the expressway authority job because of a contract issue. Also qualifying for the special election was write-in candidate Jeffrey Clyde Tepper of Windermere.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this report.

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.