TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – As voters mail in ballots or prepare to go to the polls, only a relative handful of Florida’s 160 legislative districts feature truly competitive races.READ MORE: Wong Leads Brewers To 7-3 Win Over The Marlins
But donors and the political parties have poured millions of dollars into those races as Republicans try to keep their huge majorities in the House and Senate on Nov. 8 – and as Democrats try to make inroads.
Tracking campaign cash is imprecise, at best. Money goes directly to candidates’ campaign accounts, through political committees that are linked to candidates, through the political parties and through webs of outside groups and committees.
But using the most-direct measurement — contributions to candidates’ campaign accounts as of Oct. 7 – here are examples of 10 big-money legislative races:
– SENATE DISTRICT 8 (Alachua, Putnam and part of Marion counties): Former Sen. Rod Smith, D-Alachua, and state Rep. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, had combined to raise nearly $1.1 million as of Oct. 7 as they battle for a seat that became open as part of a court-ordered redistricting process. They also were almost exactly even in fundraising, with Smith having an overall total of $539,570 and Perry at $537,997, according to information posted on the state Division of Elections website.
– SENATE DISTRICT 18 (part of Hillsborough County): As she tries to move to the Senate, state House Majority Leader Dana Young, R-Tampa, had raised $906,243 for her campaign as of Oct. 7. Democrats are backing Tampa lawyer Bob Buesing, who had raised $304,357 and had loaned $93,863 to his campaign. Also, strip-club owner Joe Redner is running as an independent and had poured $160,000 into his campaign for the open seat.
– SENATE DISTRICT 37 (part of Miami-Dade County): Both parties are focused heavily on trying to win this redrawn swing seat in a battle of two well-known lawmakers. Sen. Miguel Diaz de la Portilla, R-Miami, had raised $759,142 as of Oct. 7, while Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami, had brought in $357,352.READ MORE: Varieties Of Starburst, Skittles & Life Savers Gummies Recalled
– SENATE DISTRICT 39 (Monroe County and part of Miami-Dade County): Sen. Anitere Flores, R-Miami, has raised more campaign cash than any other legislative candidate on the November ballot, bringing in a total of $1,114,068 as of Oct. 7. Meanwhile, her opponent, Pinecrest Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, had raised $147,765.
– SENATE DISTRICT 40 (part of Miami-Dade County): Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, has piled up cash as he tries to unseat Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami. Artiles had raised $647,194 as of Oct. 7, with nearly $200,000 of that amount coming in September and the first week of October. Bullard, who won a tough Democratic primary, had raised a total of $172,117.
– HOUSE DISTRICT 9 (part of Leon County): As she seeks to return to the Legislature after an eight-year hiatus, former Rep. Loranne Ausley, D-Tallahassee, has been one of the top House fundraisers in this election cycle. Ausley had raised $400,638 as of Oct. 7, while her Republican opponent, Tallahassee attorney Jim Messer, had raised $133,065.
– HOUSE DISTRICT 59 (part of Hillsborough County): Rep. Ross Spano’s fundraising has surged in recent weeks as he tries to fend off a challenge from Brandon Democrat Rena Frazier. Spano, R-Dover, collected $70,435 during the first week of October, bringing his overall total to $295,834. Frazier, meanwhile, had raised $166,878 as of Oct. 7.
– HOUSE DISTRICT 69 (part of Pinellas County): Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-Treasure Island, hauled in more than $70,000 last month and had collected a total of $319,759 as of Oct. 7 as she tries to win a third term in the House. Her opponent, St. Petersburg Democrat Jennifer Webb, had raised a total of $126,361.
– HOUSE DISTRICT 103 (parts of Broward and Miami-Dade counties): Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., R-Hialeah, is one of only a few House candidates who have topped $400,000 in campaign cash. Diaz had raised $403,304 as of Oct. 7, while his Democratic opponent, Ivette Gonzalez Petkovich, had raised $85,946.
– HOUSE DISTRICT 114 (part of Miami-Dade County): With Rep. Erik Fresen, R-Miami, unable to run again because of term limits, Coral Gables Republican John Couriel and Coral Gables Democrat Daisy Baez are battling for the open House seat. Couriel had raised $309,928 as of Oct. 7, while Baez had raised $208,119.MORE NEWS: Rickenbacker Causeway Shut Down After Vehicle Hits & Kills 2 Cyclists
The News Service of Florida’s Jim Saunders contributed to this report.