While McCollum has raised $5.7 million to date, and spent almost that much, Scott has posted just $415,000 in fundraising, and a total of $22.6 million in expenditures — what appears to be a record for a Florida governor’s race.
Scott’s campaign also has been running for nearly a year less than McCollum’s.
Scott’s stratospheric spending is enabled by the $22.9 million in loans to himself. That figure was reported Friday along with other financial disclosures listed on the state’s elections website, accounting for nearly three months of fundraising and spending.
It was clear a few weeks ago that Naples businessman Scott planned to spend this much — and more — when he filed a lawsuit seeking for the state to do away with a campaign financing law that allows political candidates to get public financing if an opponent spends more than $24.9 million, or $2 for each Florida voter.
In the most recent reporting period, which ran from April 1 through July 16, Florida Attorney General McCollum raised just more than $1 million _ more than twice the contributions Scott received. However, McCollum’s contributions also were down compared to the two previous three-month periods in which he posted nearly $1.4 million in contributions.
Scott, who is worth $218 million, according to his financial disclosure form, also is ahead of both Democratic leader Alex Sink and McCollum in the polls. A recent poll by Reuters/Ipsos gave Scott a lead of 34 percent to 30 percent over McCollum. Sink narrowly fell in the middle, with 31 percent.
“It indicates not only that he has raised it and spent it, but he seems to have spent it pretty wisely, and it’s paid off for him in the poll numbers,” said Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero.
But money means nothing without a well-oiled campaign, Bergerson said. With Scott rising from an unknown to a frontrunner in just three months, it is clear that his campaign is well-organized, Bergerson said.
“This is a race that is not only going to have historical significance in Florida, but it’s going to have historical significance around the country,” said Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University in Estero. “This is a story that will match what’s going on in any Senate race, including in California. I think every campaign offers something new or different, maybe it’s a personality, maybe it’s issues, the climate. The story out of this campaign is going to be the overwhelming use of personal money.”
In a timely note, a New York Times story Friday probed the new landscape of political campaigns financed with personal fortunes. It cited a report from the National Institute on Money in State Politics stating that in the past nine years, self-financed candidates won just 11 percent of their elections.
But Susan MacManus, a University of South Florida professor of public administration and political science, said Scott has revealed a distinct advantage to the self-finance paradigm.
“The advantage to having your own personal wealth is you don’t have to spend as much time fundraising,” MacManus said. “That way you can spend more time developing your own personal message, your own brand.”
Scott has said he needs to spend vast amounts of money to get the name recognition enjoyed by McCollum, a longtime politician with several statewide offices under his belt. But beyond seeking name recognition, Scott has crafted an artful television campaign, touting his business chops, and bashing McCollum.
With McCollum’s fundraising totals down in the last quarter, MacManus said, it is clear that Scott’s anti-McCollum advertising has made an impact.
“Rick Scott has branded McCollum early on, branded him very negatively, and that has made people who might have given money to (McCollum) hold back or not give money at all,” MacManus said.
McCollum campaign spokeswoman Kristy Campbell said, on the contrary, McCollum is right on target, and the slowdown in fundraising is typical right before the primaries.
“We’re just about four weeks out from when voters go to the ballot box,” she said. “You see more time for political events and media interviews, less time for fundraisers. There are more schedule conflicts the closer you get to election.”
Sink, meanwhile, is steadily raising the same amount of money she brought in during the previous six months. With $7.3 million raised, but just $1.5 million in total expenditures, she is likely gearing up for a fight after the primaries.
“For the most part, she doesn’t have a competitive (primary) race, so she’s going to save her money, and just keep her name available so the news media will cover her as the likely Democratic opponent,” Bergerson said. “She’s going to need $20 million-plus just to be competitive against Mr. Scott. That’s an astronomical amount of money.”
Unless Scott’s lawsuit challenging the state campaign finance law goes through, Sink may get easy access to some of that money. Under current Florida law, if any candidate spends more than $2 per registered voter, that candidate’s opponents can get matching public financing for anything spent beyond the $2 per voter cap — up to $4 for every registered voter, or $49.8 million this year.
A federal judge rejected the lawsuit 10 days ago, and Scott has since filed an appeal. If the law stands, Scott wins the primary and he ultimately spends $34.9 million, Sink and the rest of Scott’s opponents are entitled to $10 million each if they opt for public financing.
However, Bergerson said, the $5.2 million spent so far by McCollum is a respectable amount of money, “in a normal political race.”
“But,” Bergerson said, “Mr. Scott has entirely changed the dynamics of running for political office, using his own fortune.”
Scott’s staff was on the campaign trail and couldn’t immediately provide a comment for this story.
The only governor’s campaign in Florida that seems to hold a candle to this dollar amount was Charlie Crist’s 2006 run against Democrat Jim Davis. During a 21-month campaign, Crist raised and spent $19.9 million, compared to Davis’ $7.2 million. In 2002, it took Republican Jeb Bush just $7.6 million to beat Democrat Robert McBride, who spent $6.5 million.
“This is a race that is not only going to have historical significance in Florida, but it’s going to have historical significance around the country,” Bergerson said. “This is a story that will match what’s going on in any Senate race, including in California. I think every campaign offers something new or different, maybe it’s a personality, maybe it’s issues, the climate. The story out of this campaign is going to be the overwhelming use of personal money.”
Bill McCollum.....$5.7 million.......$0...........$2.9 million.....$5.2 million
Rick Scott...........$415,000......$22.9 million....$500............$22.7 million
Alex Sink............$7.3 million.......$0............$3.3 million.....$1.5 million
Bill McCollum has out-raised his opponent for the Republican governor primary.
But don't go thinking that means he has out-spent political newcomer Rick Scott.
Bill McCollum has raised $5.7 million to date, and spent almost that much. Meanwhile, Scott has posted just $415,000 in fundraising, and a total of $22.6 million in expenditures. Scott's campaign has also been running for nearly one year less than McCollum's.
Scott's stratospheric spending is enabled by the $22.9 million in personal loans he reported in the most recent filing period, which ended one week ago. It was clear a few weeks ago that Scott planned to spend this much -- and more -- when he filed a lawsuit seeking for the state to do away with a campaign financing law that allows political candidates to get public financing help if an opponent spends more than $24.9 million, or one dollar for each Florida voter.
In the most recent finance reporting period, which ran April 1 through July 16, McCollum reported raising just more than $1 million, more than twice the contributions to Scott. However, McCollum's contributions are also down compared to the two previous three-month periods in which he posted nearly $1.4 million in contributions.
Democratic candidate Alex Sink, meanwhile, is steadily raising roughly the same amount of money she has been over the previous six months. With $7.3 million in total money raised, but just $1.5 million in expenditures, she is likely gearing up for a nasty fight after the primaries, and heading into the November general elections.
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