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Why we should pay attention to the SD 30 primary

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I missed it.

It wasn’t THAT big of a deal. But I missed it nonetheless.

Hey, I was on a business trip and sometimes when I am not at the console, a few details escape me and sometimes the big things float right by and I miss them.

This was the latter.

With only a few short weeks until qualifying, most of the state Senate races are starting to take shape. And, of course, there are some surprises. Last week we saw Lizbeth Benacquisto draw what appears to be a fairly well-funded primary challenger who announced he is immediately dumping $200,000 of his own money into the race.

Now in the scheme of things, that is probably nothing more than an annoyance as Benacquisto has far more than that already on hand in both hard and soft. And with the heavy club of the Senate President — and a lot of friends — $200,000 is noticeable but not a major obstacle.

Now if she were a Democrat. In a primary. And had less than $75,000 on hand in hard and soft and no Joe Negron to lean on … that would be a problem.

A big problem. A really big problem.

That’s the way it is with Rep. Bobby Powell who is running for a Palm Beach state Senate seat. His new opponent, Michael Steinger, also opened his account with $200,000. In a Democratic primary where donors are a lot scarcer, that kind of money is a lot more than just an annoyance.

And Steinger didn’t just drop his own dime, he also raised a considerable sum ($211,000) in a very short period of time bringing his FIRST MONTH total to well over $400,000.

That is what I missed.

To put that is perspective, consider that at the end of last month and taking ALL Senate Democratic candidates into account through the end of April, only seven of them (out of 45) had raised over $200,000 — and that includes seven incumbent Senators (only one who has raised more than $200,000. Good job Senator Montford.)

And of the seven candidates who raised $200K, only two (Lauren Book and Gary Farmer) managed to accomplish that in 30 days or less.

That’s the big thing. We covered it like everyone else but I didn’t quite put our finger on what a big deal that is.

And for the Powell supporters DO NOT MISREAD THIS. I am not saying he is going to lose. I am familiar with the demographics of this seat (the seat is heavily Democratic and just over a third of the Democrats are black) and I understand the challenges Steinger faces.

But with more than FIVE TIMES the cash on hand as Powell, this is a big deal. Steinger made a statement and nobody should miss that.

… even if you are on a really cool business trip.

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.

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