Florida Democrat Alex Sink has raised more than $1 million in her bid for a vacant House seat, outpacing three Republicans seeking to oppose her in a politically competitive Tampa Bay-area district ahead of a key March special election.
Sink, the losing Democratic nominee for governor in 2010 and former chief financial officer of the Sunshine State, raised $1,143,276 as her party’s only candidate for Florida’s 13th District, which includes Clearwater, Largo and part of St. Petersburg.
The district, which backed President Barack Obama by less than one percentage point in the 2012 election, stands out as the kind of must-win district for Democrats seeking a net gain of 17 seats in the November election. Republicans hold a 232-201 majority.
Sink’s donors include Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who also leads the Democratic National Committee. All three gave to Sink through their campaign committees and their leadership political action committees. The American Bankers Association’s PAC sent Sink a campaign donation on Dec. 25. Sink was president of the Bank of America’s Florida operations before entering public life.
On the Republican side, David Jolly, a former aide to the late Republican Bill Young, raised $388,450 compared with $169,926 for state Rep. Kathleen Peters and $58,444 for pilot Mark Bircher. Young’s death in October necessitated a special election, beginning with a Republican primary on Jan. 14 that will determine Sink’s opponent in the March 11 balloting.
Jolly, a lobbyist, got donations from Young’s campaign committee and from the congressman’s widow, Beverly. Rep. Rich Nugent of Florida’s Ocala-area 11th District and former Florida Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite gave through their campaign committees. Entertainer Bob Barker, former Rep. Bob Livingston and developer Mel Sembler also donated to Jolly’s campaign.
Peters’s backers include House Republican women. She received donations from the leadership political action committees of Republican Reps. Ann Wagner of Missouri, Diane Black of Tennessee, Virginia Foxx of North Carolina and Lynn Jenkins of Kansas. Value in Electing Women PAC, which backs female Republican candidates for Congress, sent $5,000 to Peters.
Rep. Daniel Webster, a former state House speaker who represents Florida’s Orlando-area 10th District, and Rep. Michael Burgess of Texas also donated to Peters’s campaign through their leadership PACs.
The fundraising totals, reported today to the Federal Election Commission, include loans and donations that the candidates made to their own campaigns. Jolly loaned his campaign $50,000, Peters loaned $10,000 to her effort, and Bircher provided $44,000 in candidate support. Sink gave $7,700 to her campaign.
As the only Democratic candidate for the seat, Sink can afford to conserve campaign funds. She spent just $88,787 through Dec. 25, leaving her with $1,054,488 in the bank compared with $141,891 for Jolly, $17,550 for Peters and $12,019 for Bircher.
— Alex Sink (@AlexSinkFlorida) January 2, 2014
The other vacant House district, Alabama’s 1st, will be filled by Republican Bradley Byrne, who was elected Dec. 17. Democratic Rep. Mel Watt of North Carolina will vacate his strongly Democratic district Jan. 6 to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency.