Crist surges ahead in fundraising
His GOP opponent, Tom Gallagher, may gain after storm-delayed events. For the Democrats, Jim Davis has a big quarter against Rod Smith.
By ADAM C. SMITH
Published January 7, 2006
In the crucial hunt for campaign donations, Republican Charlie Crist and Democrat Jim Davis dramatically outperformed their primary rivals in the final months of 2005.
But Democrats are not even in the same fundraising league as the Republicans.
Republican Chief Financial Officer Tom Gallagher reportedFriday raising about $770,000 in the final three months of the year, bringing his combined total to about $5.29-million raised.
Crist nearly doubled him in the last quarter, with $1.5-million, bringing the attorney general's overall total to $6.86-million. That's about $30,000 a day in contributions of up to $500.
On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep. Jim Davis of Tampa estimates raising more than $505,000 in the final quarter of 2005, nearly doubling the $264,000 reported for state Sen. Rod Smith. All told, Davis estimates raising more than $1.6-million and Smith more than $1.3-million.
In a state as big as Florida, money is essential for any statewide candidate to communicate with voters. Early fundraising totals are widely watched by activists and donors to measure momentum and viability.
Mark Guzzetta, a Delray Beach developer and Gallagher's campaign finance chairman, scoffed at the notion that Crist is pulling away. He said Hurricane Wilma postponed at least 20 fundraising events in southeast Florida until early this year.
"We're both setting records," Guzzetta said of Crist and Gallagher. "... Nobody's going to look at these numbers and say we're not in the race."
Crist, who is leading Gallagher in most polls and in endorsements from elected officials, e-mailed supporters Friday and noted the $6.86-million: "Our campaign has reached this figure faster than any previous gubernatorial campaign in Florida. I wish to extend my sincere gratitude to my supporters from across the state. ... This financial support will help carry us to victory come election day!"
The Davis campaign touted its candidate's momentum. "Look at trend lines," said communications director Tait Sye. "We're the only campaign that's grown."
Smith has an estimated $924,000 on hand. Davis has about $1.1-million. But Smith has an added disadvantage as a legislator: He is barred from raising money for 60 days when the legislative session starts in March.
"We feel confident about this quarter coming up, and we also feel confident coming out of the session," said Paul Neaville, Smith's campaign manager.
Adam C. Smith can be reached at 727 893-8241 or firstname.lastname@example.org
[Last modified January 7, 2006, 01:12:01]
[an error occurred while processing this directive]