Rick Scott appears to have started something.
The governor, who famously self-financed his 2010 campaign to the tune of $60 million, has imitators in Collier County, where candidate after candidate is dipping into personal funds to win election.
Dave Carpenter, qualifying officer for the Collier County Supervisor of Elections, says he can't recall a year in which so many candidates spent so much of their own money campaigning.
"This is an exceptional year, that way," Carpenter said. "Everybody puts some money in, but when somebody puts $100,000 in their own campaign, that's unusual. Legal, but highly unusual."
As of Monday, one candidate had reported six-figures in loans or donations his own campaign and another is drawing close.
Campaign contributions for the current election cycle can be accepted until midnight Thursday, with the final reports due Friday, which means the threshold could be crossed again before the Aug. 14 primary.
So far, former CEO John Barlow, who is challenging Dwight Brock for the post of Collier County Clerk of Courts has given or loaned his campaign more than $95,000. That's almost all of the just under $97,000 he's reported in campaign income so far.
Brock isn't taking the challenge lightly. He's put $31,000 of his own money into his campaign, which reports a total of $61,000 in contributions.
Barlow is happy to talk about why he's self-funding. "Taxpayers and business owners should not feel they must donate pots of money to political campaigns in order to be treated fairly and honestly by their elected officials. What kind of message does it send to Collier citizens if a candidate is unwilling to invest in his or her own victory?" he said.
Collier County Commissioner Georgia Hiller raised eyebrows in 2010 when she put $15,000 of her own into her campaign, which ultimately raised a total of $129,000.
But she's a cheapskate compared to candidate Tim Nance. Nance's campaign treasury of $151,000 is more than double that of incumbent Jim Coletta, who has raised $77,000. Roughly $102,000 of Nance's figure is in loans from himself to his campaign. Coletta has given his campaign around $1,250.
Carpenter said loans to a campaign may be paid back to the candidate with other contributions, but they don't have to be paid back if the candidate chooses not to.
Races up and down the Collier ballot feature candidates who have given to themselves.
Tax Collector Larry Ray has put in about $8,000 of the $22,000 he's raised trying to hold off former co-worker Steve Wagner, who put in $1,200 of the $5,100 at his disposal.
Both incumbent Property Appraiser Abe Skinner and challenger Kevin Lilly have ponied up around $11,000, making up roughly a third of each man's total contributions.
Incumbent commissioner Donna Fiala, with $75,000 total, put $50 in her campaign. Fiala's Republican primary opponent Steve Cosgrove has given his own campaign about $4,500 of the $6,750 he's raised.
Tom Henning, also an incumbent, hasn't contributed toward the $63,000 he's raised. Bill McDaniel, challenging Henning, has put about $800 into his campaign, giving him a total of $35,000
Victor Ortino, a candidate for sheriff, contributed around $5,400 to his campaign, which has raised about $21,000. Sheriff Kevin Rambosk has raised $59,000 without contributing to himself.
Even farther down the ballot, eye-popping numbers surface in the races for county court judge seats.
Stephen Smith, an attorney from the East Coast who is challenging incumbent Mike Carr has kicked in $50,000 toward his own election, bringing his total contributions to $62,000.
Carr paid the $5,317 filing fee himself and has about $16,500 in contributions from others.
Jim McGarity, challenging incumbent Eugene Turner, put in $60,000 of the $63,000 he's raised. Turner has yet to put any of his own money into his $43,000 effort. Samuel Lopez, the third candidate it the race, has also not contributed to his own campaign, which has raised just over $10,000.
In terms of percentages, no candidate has done more for themselves than sheriff's challenger Vinnie Angiolillo, a candidate without party affiliation who in November will face the winner of the primary between Rambosk and Ortino. He donated $20 in cash to his campaign in 2009. His overall total as of the latest report _ $20.
Connect with Brent Batten at naplesnews.com/staff/brent_batten