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Frank Artiles tops $209K in 15 days in challenge to Dwight Bullard

in Statewide/Top Headlines by

Rep. Frank Artiles quickly raised up a warchest in his campaign against incumbent Democrat Sen. Dwight Bullard last month. The Miami Republican brought in $209,669 during the month of March, despite a prohibition on fundraising during the Legislative Session which ended March 11.

Bullard had not reported his most recent totals as of Monday afternoon, but has raised $68,518 for his 2016 reelection bid so far.

The Artiles-Bullard fight in Miami-based SD 40 will likely be an expensive and hotly contested affair. Artiles’ campaign is one Republicans must win if they are to beat back a likely Democratic-leaning trend this year amid a presidential election cycle, while a win for Bullard is key for Dems if they are to capitalize on newly redrawn Senate district maps.

The majority of Artiles’ haul came in $1,000 chunks, the maximum contribution allowed for state legislative campaigns. PACs affiliated fellow GOP members of the Legislature notably dotted the finance report, including from committees controlled by Senate President-to-be Wilton Simpson, Senate budget chief Tom Lee, and Republican Majority Leader Bill Galvano, plus several familiar Adams Street and industry groups.

Major contributors to Bullard’s campaign include multiple trade union groups, as well as Tallahassee interests like AT&T and Disney. Lobbyist Ron Book contributed $1,000 to both candidates through different accounts.

Bullard will enjoy a seat that favors Democrats somewhat and a more extensive political territory than he has represented in past years. The GOP money wave Artiles received last month, however, is likely to continue unabated until November.

Independent candidate Mario Jimenez is also in the race, running on a campaign platform focused on reforming the state’s family court and child custody laws. He has raised just $1,200 since filing last August.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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