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Republican fundraising shows a serious challenger in Democratic HD 9

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Republican House District 9 candidate James Messer filed his first campaign finance report Thursday, and it looks like Democratic front-runner Loranne Ausley has a serious challenger in the left-leaning district.

After four weeks in the race the Tallahassee attorney amassed $52,000 cash on-hand, a good deal of it coming from fellow attorneys. The total came across 157 contributions, including 20 checks of $1,000 – the maximum contribution for Florida House campaigns.

Former state Rep. Ausley hasn’t released her September report yet, though she’s seen a dropoff in contributions since she opened her campaign with a $75,000 haul back in May. She’s raised about $35,000 in the three months since then, putting her campaign just beyond the $100,000 mark after expenses.

The other Democrat in the race, Arnitta Jane Grice-Walker, raised $175 in July and hasn’t posted any contributions since.

Messer’s banner month makes things interesting, but Republicans are at a heavy disadvantage in the Leon County district and didn’t even field a candidate last year. The last GOP contender, Bradley Maxwell in 2012, took a 62-to-38 drubbing at the hands of state Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, who terms out in 2016.

Maxwell raised about $65,000 in his 2012 campaign, and Rehwinkel Vasilinda came in with just under $100,000. Messer is on a pace to pass Maxwell’s total pretty quickly, but he’ll need to do a lot better than that to overcome his longshot odds in the district.

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for SaintPetersBlog and FloridaPolitics.com. 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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