Candidate fundraising heats up as primary approaches

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With the field of candidates set and an extra week in the reporting quarter, Palm Beach County’s candidates raised just under $1.4 million, slightly more than last quarter. This brings the total haul to date to an impressive $3.8 million across all state and local races.

Drawing a last-minute, unknown opponent, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Palm City, continues to hold top fundraising honors with just over half a million raised. Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, in a highly competitive race, has built her war chest to over $366,000. Her opponent, Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach, trails with nearly $174,000, not including an $81,000 contribution for staff pay picked up by the Democratic Party of Florida.

The third Senate race, not considered to be as competitive, has not attracted funds like the other two. Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Wellington, is close to collecting $100,000, while Republicans Melanie Peterson and Geoff Summers have yet to reach $20,000.

The top fundraiser of the House races is former Rep. Kevin Rader with $95,305 raised. The Democrat initially filed to run in the Senate, but avoided a primary clash with Sachs by switching to the House seat currently held by Rep. Steve Perman, D-Boca Raton. Totaling slightly less than Rader, Rep. Bill Hager, R-Boca Raton, raised nearly $93,000, and not too far behind is Rep. Pat Rooney, R-Jupiter, with just under $88,000.

At the county level, the high-profile race for state attorney has seen candidate Dave Aronberg raising over $455,000. Sheriff Ric Bradshaw may have three opponents, but he clearly has the advantage with contributions approaching $300,000. No other candidate for any of the constitutional offices has reached even the $100,000 mark in funds raised so far.

The two County Commission seats being vacated due to term limits have drawn considerable interest. In the north, four candidates are vying for the seat, with former Palm Beach Gardens Councilman Hal Valeche logging in over $146,000 in contributions. His closest opponent, Palm Beach Gardens Mayor David Levy, has only raised $71,393, but the “Friends of David Levy” political action committee has contributions and loans totaling just over $13,000.

In the southern County Commission race, which also has four candidates, Mary Lou Berger is way ahead of her opponents with $110,000 raised, 10 times more than her closest rival.

School Board members Chuck Shaw and Frank Barbieri were re-elected without opposition, but the seat vacated by Monroe Benaim drew five candidates. Ahead of the pack is Michael Murgio, with just over $20,000 raised.

As the primary election approaches, campaign treasurers’ reports have to be filed more frequently. The next report must be filed by Friday, July 27.

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