Gillum campaign out-raising DeSantis by nearly three-to-one

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum surprised the pundits with his unexpected gubernatorial primary victory over better-financed Democrats.

Now it is Gillum with the bloated war chest, a surprise to many in a state where Republicans traditionally out-raise and outspend their Democratic opponents.

According to reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections, Gillum’s campaign began September with more than $4.2 million while his Republican opponent, Congressman Ron DeSantis, had $1.5 million on hand.

Much of that money – $4 million – was directed into Gillum’s political action committee in the three days after his primary upset victory.

DeSantis’ campaign, meanwhile, reported it had collected $521,880 during the same period after he defeated Adam Putnam to win the GOP’s gubernatorial nod.

Between Aug. 29 to Aug. 31, Gillum’s campaign reported it had raised $1.7 million while his Forward Florida PAC reported it had collected $2.3 million.

Among donations to Forward Florida is $1 million from the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and $1 million from hedge fund manager and Democratic super donor Donald Sussman.

The DGA announced on Tuesday that it was contributing another $1 million to Gillum, money that is not included in the financial reports filed Sept. 7.

“Andrew Gillum has strong grassroots momentum behind his campaign to rebuild Florida so that it works for everyone,” DGA Executive Director Elisabeth Pearson said in a statement. “This additional $1 million investment will allow him to communicate his positive message across the state, and build on the momentum he has already created.”

Sussman, of Fort Lauderdale, Connecticut and Maine, is the founder and chief investment officer of Paloma Funds and founder of New China Capital Management, LLC.

He has donated millions to various political campaigns – usually Democrat – over the last quarter-century, including $22.8 million to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.

The DeSantis campaign, meanwhile, raised $275,880 with his Friends of Ron DeSantis PAC reporting that it had raised $246,000, with its biggest contribution a $100,000 donation from the Florida Chamber of Commerce PAC.

The campaign finance reports do not necessarily include money raised and spent during the primaries, essentially starting from scratch after Aug. 28, unlike the efforts to pass or oppose the 12 constitutional amendments on the ballot, which did not have primary campaigns.

Gillum spent about $6.7 million during the primary in which the five Democratic candidates collectively spent nearly $100 million. His coffers were boosted late in the primary campaign by the DGA, which ponied up $1 million and $3.5 million from People For the American Way, which is financed by national progressive donors such as George Soros and Tom Steyer.

The DeSantis campaign raised nearly $6 million during the primary, with more than $1 million from the Florida Republican Party and contributions from the Freedom Partners Action Fund, a Washington-based super PAC.

Between announcing his candidacy for governor in January through the primary, DeSantis made 121 appearances on Fox News. His campaign estimates it would have cost $9.3 million to purchase all that airtime.

Among other notable campaign contributions reported to the Florida Division of Elections on Sept. 7 is a $5.695 million donation by California-based Marsy’s Law for All Foundation on Aug. 28 to the Marsy’s Law for Florida PAC.

The PAC is spearheading support for Amendment 6 on the Nov. 6 ballot. It was one of the five “bundled” proposed constitutional amendments that survived legal challenges before the state Supreme Court in late August.

The Marsy’s Law for All Foundation is a national movement seeking to amend 15 state constitutions, including Florida’s, that it claims “do not offer equal protections to crime victims.”

With the donation, Marsy’s Law for Florida PAC and other supporters have now raised more than $30 million in the push to pass Amendment 6.

The Floridians for a Fair Democracy PAC, which is orchestrating support for Amendment 4, which would automatically restore voting rights for all nonviolent felons who have served their sentences, completed parole or probation and paid restitution, reported it had $4.88 million as of Aug. 31.

The next reporting period, for the span between Sept. 1-7, is Sept. 14.

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