Jack Latvala passes Andy Gardiner in Leadership Fund fundraising race

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The last time a reporter in the Capitol Press Corp checked in on the race between Andy Gardiner and Jack Latvala to be the Senate President after Don Gaetz term ends in 2014, the story read that Gardiner held an advantage over Latvala, especially in the fundraising department.

However, according to the latest fundraising data, that’s no longer the story.  Actually, Latvala has pulled ahead of Gardiner, especially since it was rumored that Gardiner was dropping out of the race to make way for John Thrasher.

Since the last quarterly fundraising report (which covered the period ending Dec. 31, 2011), Latvala has raised $152,015 for two of the three Leadership Funds with which he is affiliated ($141, 365 for the Florida Leadership Fund and $10,650 for Working Together for Florida).

During this same period, Gardiner raised just (yes, just) $32,500 for his Leadership Fund, Protect Our Liberty.

Florida legislators cannot raise money during the sixty-day legislative session, which began January 10.  And since contributions to and expenditures from legislative leadership funds must be disclosed within five days of being made, these are actually the most complete, up-to-date figures.

For much of this unofficial race, Gardiner’s leadership fund held a fundraising advantage over the sum of Latvala’s three leadership funds, so much so that Gardiner felt generous enough to give $250,000 to the Republican Party of Florida’s Senate Majority fund.

As of December 31, Gardiner had raised $428,600 for Protect Our Liberty, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  Latvala had raised $440,000 through his three leadership funds, according to the same report.

But in the nine days after the last report and before the beginning of the legislative session, Latvala’s leadership funds dramatically outraised Gardiner’s – to the tune of approximately $119,515. Factor these new numbers in with the fact that Latvala has squirreled away more of his funds’ money away than Gardiner and Gardiner’s gave away $250,000 to the RPOF and suddenly Latvala has a sizeable fundraising advantage with which to play the game of three dimensional chess that is the race to be the next Senate President.

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.