In HD 40, negative ads prove effective in opening wallets

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If anything, going negative in a campaign, especially in Lakeland’s House District 40 GOP primary, proves one thing: sympathy can be an excellent way to open wallets.

Attack ads –  produced by outside groups — have recently come from all sides in the contest between Republicans John Shannon and Colleen Burton. And they certainly appear to have an effect, whether intended or otherwise, on fundraising numbers.

Both candidates enjoyed an outpouring of support after the ads hit the local airwaves. The result is solid numbers, the best in months, for the week of Aug. 2-8.

Shannon, the Lakeland attorney and Marine Corps veteran, experienced his most-effective fundraising week since entering the race in February. He easily won the weeklong reporting period with $30,750, bringing his total to $134,810. Most of Shannon’s support came from attorneys and law firms. During that time, he spent $24,303 — mostly to Strategic Management for print and other media buys. So far, Shannon’s expenditures are $108,486 to date, leaving him with $26,324 cash on hand.

Burton, the former executive director of Polk Vision, also experienced her best week since drawing a primary opponent earlier in the year. She received another $12,975 in contributions — most of which were from Tallahassee-based PACs — while spending only $2,516. Her total now stands at $163,845, with $103,284 in expenditures and just under $60,000 on hand.

The winner of the Aug. 26 GOP primary will face Democrat Ricky Shirah and American Independent Party candidate Franklin Shoemaker in the race to replace Republican state Rep. Seth McKeel in the district covering metropolitan Lakeland and much of Polk County. Neither Shirah nor Shoemaker reported any donations during the reporting period.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, 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.