Senate President Jeff Atwater of North Palm Beach, Republican candidate for chief financial officer, announced Thursday that he has more than $2.1 million in the bank for his campaign. He now enjoys a healthy financial advantage over his Democratic rival in the CFO race, former Rep. Loranne Ausley of Tallahassee.
Atwaters team announced that he had pulled in more than $245,000 in cash contributions during the second quarter of 2010 -- adding to an already impressive war chest that helped him chase other Republicans out of the race -- namely Rep. Pat Patterson of DeLand.
However, with the Senate president prohibited by law to raise money during the session, Atwaters numbers in the second quarter paled next to the cash his campaign garnered in previous quarters. During the last three quarters of 2009, Atwater raised more than $523,000 in each period. He has also garnered more than $400,000 in in-kind donations during the entire campaign.
"I am honored to receive this tremendous outpouring of support," said Atwater. "Every single day, I meet Floridians who are ready to join us as we work for fiscal discipline in government and to foster the entrepreneurial spirit that will grow our economy and create jobs."
Late Thursday, Ausley announced that, during the second quarter of 2010, she raised a total of almost $318,000 with almost $203,000 in individual donations and $115,000 from the Florida Democratic Party.
Ausley has not done as well as Atwater in fund-raising. Even with the infusion of cash from the party, Ausley has raised less than $800,000, less than half of what Atwater has brought in. With public matching funds about to flow into the campaign, Ausley backers insist they will be able to compete with Atwater.
Ausleys team points to internal polls that show their candidate is within striking distance of Atwater, and they say they are optimistic about their chances.
Im pleased with our fund-raising success thus far, said Ausley. People are tired of the pay-to-play culture that has taken over our state government and Jeff Atwater is the poster child for whats wrong in Tallahassee today.
This campaign is ready to compete, said Ausley campaign manager Jonathan Ducote. With these strong figures, there is no longer any doubt that we are positioned to win this race.
Ducote admitted that Atwater retains a financial advantage, but says the Ausley team is up for the challenge.
I think its going to require us to be very focused, very frugal, very disciplined.
The Ausley campaign has shown no hesitation to go after Atwater -- with the brief special session of the Legislature held earlier in the week as its latest talking point.
Im ready to clean up the mess in Tallahassee, said Ausley.Atwaters failed leadership and his waste of tax dollars in the recent gavel-and-go special session continues to remind voters of his chronic inability to address the real problems facing Florida.
But the Atwater campaign also plans to participate in the campaign finance program and its players are confident their strong ground campaign will help them prevail. They point not only to their financial advantages but to their candidate's constant campaigning. While they did not reveal when they would launch television ads, the Atwater campaign said they were in works.
Contact Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859