Local News

Local pols raise no opponents, lots of cash

SEBRING - Denise Grimsley, Cary Pigman and Bill Galvano have no opponents, but that hasn't stopped them from raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for their campaign accounts.

Sen. Galvano, R-Bradenton, has raised $286,000 for re-election.

Sen. Grimsley, R-Sebring and Rep. Pigman, R-Avon Park, are closing in on $100,000 for the Aug. 26 primary or the Nov. 4 general election.

Another former Sebring man, State Rep. Eric Eisnaugle, R-Windermere, has continued his fundraising dominance in District 44, which includes Lake Buena Vista and Downtown Disney.

Eisnaugle stepped away from the 2012 election when his House of Representatives district was merged with Rep. Steve Precourt's seat in redistricting. However, Precourt resigned in January to take a job with the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority. By law, he could not draw paychecks from both.

According to the latest reports filed with the Division of Elections, Eisnaugle raised $74,165 for his campaign account between Feb. 8 and March 6, bringing his overall total to $320,070. He had spent $216,394 as of March. 6.

His Republican opponent in Tuesday's special primary election, Vicky Bell, did not raise any money during the latest period and totaled only $1,800.

Democrat Shaun Raja raised $8,255 between Feb. 8 and March 6 for an $11,487 total.

The winner of Tuesday's Eisnaugle-Bell raise will meet Raja in an April 8 general election.

By contrast, Grimsley will not face an opponent until the 2016 primary or the Nov. 8 general election.

Even so, Grimsley, one of Florida's most prolific fundraisers as a state representative, had collected $99,771 as of her Feb. 28 report. She has spent $51,830. In-kind contributions include $111.75 for a fundraising lunch from Capital City Consulting of Tallahassee.

Pigman has collected $89,250 and spent $25,697. Since he is an emergency room doctor, more than 100 of his 264 contributors are coded physician, healthcare or nurse. Six of his $500 contributions came from Clewiston, and all on the same date: one from U.S. Sugar, one from South Central Florida, and four from Southern Gardens.

Innovate Florida, a political committee led by Galvano, collected $194,000 in contributions during February, bringing its overall total to more than $824,000, according to the state Division of Elections website. Innovate Florida received $25,000 from Disney Worldwide Services. In a separate campaign account filed with Florida Division of Elections, Galvano reported six more $500 contributions from Disney.

In the week before Thanksgiving 2013, Innovate Florida listed $2,500 from JAN Investments of Tampa, $15,000 from Florida Optometric PAC of Winter Park, $20,000 from Associated Industries of Florida, $25,000 from Florida Medical Association PAC, $12,500 from PepsiCo. of Bradenton, $25,000 from Florida Power & Light $2,500 from Gulf Coast Transportation of Ft. Lauderdale FL, $5,000 from Link-Systems International, $25,00 from Automated HealthCare Solutions of Miramar, $5,000 from Northport Health Services of Ocala, $5,000 from NHS Management of Tuscaloosa, Ala, and $5,000 from Senior Care Pharmacy, which has the same Tuscaloosa address. He also received sizable contributions from real estate agents and education and health care industry players.

The committee spent $40,282 during the month, including sending $1,000 contributions to the campaigns of Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater; Sen. John Thrasher, R-St. Augustine; Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart; Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-Lehigh Acres; and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach.

Galvano, a future candidate for Senate president, is running for re-election this year in District 26 after two years in office. When Senate districts were redrawn in 2012, half the senators - including Grimsley - were elected for four years, half were elected for two years.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam collected $101,371 for his campaign account in February, bringing the overall total to nearly $1.4 million. Among the contributors who gave the maximum of $3,000 during the month were the insurer Geico and Jacksonville cigar-maker Swisher International, Inc. While raising a total of $1,386,533 through February, Putnam had spent only $162,137. The Polk County Republican incumbent also has received in-kind support, such as staffing from the Republican Party of Florida.

February totals for Democratic candidate Thad Hamilton had not been posted on the state Division of Elections website, but Hamilton had raised only $10,477 through January. March 3 was the deadline for candidates and political committees to file February reports.

CFO incumbent Jeff Atwater, R-North Palm Beach, also has a house in Sebring. He had raised $1,486,929 by Feb. 28, including $618,465 in in-kind contributions, and had expended $83,366.

His Democratic opponent, William Rankin, took in $100 in February for $5,674 in total contributions and $10,600 in loans.

News Service of Florida contributed to this report