Reno gathers support from outside Florida
By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
Tapping the likes of Barbra Streisand, Michael Douglas and former Clinton administration colleagues, Janet Reno has raised nearly 40 percent of her gubernatorial campaign money from out-of-state contributors.
The former Attorney General's chief rival for the Democratic nomination, Tampa lawyer Bill McBride, has raised the vast majority of his money within Florida, relying heavily on lawyers.
McBride ran the state's biggest law firm, Holland & Knight, before announcing his candidacy, and more than $4 of every $10 donated to his campaign came from lawyers or their relatives.
Slightly more than a third of Reno's donations came from attorneys and their family members.
The latest campaign finance reports also underscore how the two candidates are relying on their respective geographical strengths.
Reno raised nearly 88 percent of her Florida donations from South Florida, a state Democratic stronghold where she grew up.
McBride raised more than 62 percent of Florida donations from Central Florida, generally seen as home to moderate swing voters crucial for a general election.
McBride slightly leads Reno in fundraising -- $1.14-million by March 31 to her $916,000 -- but he is little known to most of the state and needs a lot more money to build name recognition. In a state as sprawling as Florida, that means expensive television ads.
Yet McBride looks better positioned to buy TV spots than Reno.
She has spent more than twice as much as McBride, and to qualify for public matching money she must pay back $75,000 of a $100,000 loan she gave her campaign. What's more, under Florida's public campaign financing laws, none of the money she raised from out of state qualifies for public matching funds. Most of McBride's contributions qualify for up to $250 in matching money.
"Unless she's now raising money hand over fist, she's got a tough row to hoe," said Robin Rorapaugh, campaign manager for McBride, whose out-of-state contributions comprise less than 15 percent of his total.
Rorapaugh contends that after more Democratic primary voters become aware of McBride, her 30-point lead will evaporate.
The Reno campaign argues that Reno is the only candidate energizing rank-and-file Democrats. Reno's out-of-state money -- more than 37 percent of her total -- highlights her national appeal, said campaign spokeswoman Nicole Harburger.
That appeal drew $500 contributions from the likes of power lawyer David Boies of Florida recount fame and actor Mike Myers of Austin Powers and Wayne's World fame. She also got money from a string of former Clinton administration officials, including chiefs of staff John Podesta and Thomas McClarty and White House counsel Lanny Davis.
Reno and McBride are easily outraising the two other major Democratic candidates. Neither state Rep. Lois Frankel nor state Sen. Daryl Jones has raised more than $150,000.
Incumbent Republican Gov. Jeb Bush has raised nearly $4.4-million in direct contributions to his campaign, with roughly 30 percent coming from outside Florida.
-- Computer assisted reporting specialist Connie Humburg contributed to this report.
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From the Times state desk
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