Candidate for attorney general hits $1-million

State Rep. Joe Negron of Stuart has raised more than $1-million one year before the Republican primary.

Published October 4, 2005

TALLAHASSEE - With the primary election still a year away, Republican state Rep. Joe Negron says he has broken the $1-million barrier in his campaign to be the next attorney general of Florida.

Negron, 43, a lawyer from Stuart and a House leader, is expected to expand his fundraising advantage over his two GOP rivals, Rep. Everett Rice of Treasure Island and Sen. Burt Saunders of Naples. The Democrat seeking the state's top legal post is Sen. Walter "Skip" Campbell of Fort Lauderdale.

"This race certainly isn't about money, but you have to introduce yourself to the voters when they start paying attention, which I think will be August of next year," Negron said. "Now is the time to lay the groundwork."

Rice said he did not know precisely how much money he raised last quarter. Saunders could not be reached Monday.

The wide open race for attorney general is destined to be obscured by two other marquee contests on the 2006 ballot, for governor and U.S. Senate.

Negron is not well-known outside his Treasure Coast district, except to those who rely on the Legislature for money. As chairman of the House Fiscal Council, he holds the House purse strings on state spending.

Rice attributed much of Negron's fundraising success to his power as an appropriator of public money.

"There's nothing exceptional about Joe's qualifications, but he's getting all the money. It's obvious," Rice said. "It's hard to keep up with somebody in Joe's position."

Negron is not only outpacing his GOP rivals. He is also raising money faster than any of the three most recent successful candidates for similar Cabinet offices: Attorney General Charlie Crist, Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher and Agriculture Commissioner Charles Bronson.

It's another sign that campaigns are becoming ever more expensive. At this stage in their 2002 campaigns, Crist had raised about $814,000 in cash donations, Gallagher about $728,000 and Bronson about $383,000.

--Steve Bousquet can be reached at 850 224-7263 or bousquet@sptimes.com