Primary battles leave some candidates bruised, penniless, others flush with cash

With the primary elections over, candidates are turning their attention to the general election, some with more resources than others.

In the Florida Senate races, GOP Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, has the largest war chest, with over $331,000 remaining, compared to his little-known opponent, Democrat Ray D’Amiano, who has $278.18. In what will likely be one of the costliest Senate races in the state, Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, advances from the primaries with over $264,000 remaining. Her opponent, Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton, was unopposed in the primary and has nearly $159,000. With just over $108,000, Rep. Joe Abruzzo, D-Royal Palm Beach, faces Republican Melanie Peterson, who prevailed in the Republican primary but has just over $2,000 to regroup for November.

While the Jeff Clemens/Mack Bernard Senate race was a nail-biter – even after the election – their fundraising was nearly as close as the vote. As of Aug. 9, both candidates had spent just under $139,000. Both ended up with funds of about $160,000, with Clemens infusing $23,100 of his own money into the campaign.

In the Florida House races, several incumbents move forward with impressive war chests. Republicans Bill Hager of Boca Raton and Pat Rooney of Jupiter have just over $74,000 and $73,000, respectively. Democrats Lori Berman of Boca Raton and Mark Pafford of West Palm Beach have $62,000 and $50,000 left, respectively.

The Carl Domino/MaryLynn Magar race had each raising nearly the same amount, just over $70,000. However, even though Domino loaned his campaign $201,000, Magar prevailed with just $22,000 in personal loans. David Kerner of Lake Worth won his race by outspending his opponent, Mike Rios, by a 20-to-1 margin. Kerner raised $82,000, compared to Rios’ nearly $4,000.

After decisive primary contests, the general election will have just one constitutional office race left on the ballot, with three candidates vying for state attorney. Democrat Dave Aronberg’s campaign moves forward with over $369,000 in the bank and no loans made to the campaign. No-party candidate Robert Gershman has just over $43,000, including a $22,000 personal loan, while Republican Dina Keever holds over $81,000, including a $50,500 loan.

Interesting to note, in winning re-election, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw outspent his closest opponent by an 8-to-1 margin, while property appraiser candidate Robert Weinroth outspent incumbent Gary Nikolits almost 3-to-1 — and lost.

Three County Commission seats are still up for grabs in November. District 1 Republican candidate Hal Valeche prevailed in a three-way primary with just under $80,000 remaining. In November, he faces Democrat David Levy, who has just over $59,000 in the bank.

In District 3, Commissioner Shelley Vana, a Democrat who had no primary opponent, faces perennial candidate Cliff Montross, a Republican who challenged her in 2008. Montross loaned his campaign $6,000 and has only $424 left, while Vana is holding nearly $4,000.

In an unusual outcome for the District 4 County Commission Democratic primary, Mary Lou Berger’s two opponents ended their run with negative balances in their accounts. Steven Meyer and Rick Neuhoff ended with -$886.20 and -$107.94, respectively. Berger will face Republican Paul Tocker – who has $72.22 – in the general.

But Tocker isn’t the candidate heading to the general election with the least amount of money. That would be James Ryan O’Hara, Republican candidate for House District 81, who has $69.48.





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