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Matt Gaetz falls behind as George Gainer widens fundraising gap in SD 1 race

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Republican Bay County Commissioner George Gainer passed Shalimar Republican Matt Gaetz in fundraising in October, and the gap between the two Senate District 1 candidates got a bit wider last month, according to recently filed campaign finance reports.

Gainer posted $42,285 in November contributions and spent $57,313, leaving him with $557,747 on-hand heading into December. Though he spent more than he brought in, Gaetz did the same, and to a greater degree. The House District 4 representative raised $13,900 last month and spent $57,036, putting his campaign account at $458,509 at month’s end.

The November report marks the second straight month Gainer out-raised Gaetz, and the Bay County businessman wasn’t shy about making that known.

“I am so thankful for the support received from my friends and neighbors throughout Northwest Florida. For them to contribute to my campaign is humbling,” Gainer said in a news release. “They recognize, like I do, that we need a strong conservative voice representing us in Tallahassee.”

The major expenditures for both candidates stemmed from media buys for TV commercials. Gainer spent $21,500 buying airtime for an ad billing him as the “the conservative that doesn’t just talk the talk, but walks the walk.” He also spent another $8,400 on print advertisements.

Gaetz spent $28,890 airing his ad, which highlights his role in increasing penalties for sex offenders. He also paid Consensus Communications $13,200 to produce the commercial, and spent another $8,053 on a direct mail campaign through Gainesville-based Data Targeting and $5,137 for advertising with EM Campaigns.

Most of the rest of Gainer’s November expenditures went toward campaign swag. The Republican spent $11,323 on signs and another $2,344 on campaign shirts.

Gainer’s contributions came mainly from individuals, many of whom listed themselves as retired. On the whole, 33 of his 68 contributions last month were for the maximum of $1,000. Gaetz, for his part, brought in five $1,000 checks as well as three $500 checks from different branches of the Hospital Corporation of America.

With the 2016 Legislative Session set to start in January, barring lawmakers from fundraising, Gainer’s $100,000 lead could expand quite a bit before Gaetz has a chance to get back on the campaign trail.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and 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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