State Politics

Finance reports reveal biggest election battles brewing in Florida Legislature

Lauren Book, left, with Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra, was leading a 1,500-mile walk through Florida in an annual awareness campaign with her Lauren's Kids organization when this photo was taken in 2013. Now she’s running for a seat in the Florida Senate.
Lauren Book, left, with Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra, was leading a 1,500-mile walk through Florida in an annual awareness campaign with her Lauren's Kids organization when this photo was taken in 2013. Now she’s running for a seat in the Florida Senate. Miami Herald file

With less than a year until the November 2016 elections, campaign finance records released Thursday already show where the biggest battles for Florida Legislature seats are developing.

In North Florida, a pair of Republicans have amassed more than $1.4 million for what is expected to be one of the mostly hotly contested state senate races.

Another expensive battle is brewing just south of Tampa Bay, with three Republicans seeking to replace state Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, in 2016. The three combatants in that race are already close to raising a combined $500,000.

Here are the top five fundraisers for Florida House and Florida Senate campaigns going into 2016, according to the latest campaign finance reports filed with the Florida Division of Elections.

Florida House

▪ $216,245: Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-Land O’Lakes. The House Appropriations chairman has raised the most money of any House incumbent for his reelection campaign in the Pasco-based District 37 despite no Democratic challenge.

▪ $194,295: State Rep. W. Greg Steube. The Sarasota Republican has built a war chest, but not necessarily for reelection. Steube is raising money that is expected to roll over to a Senate campaign committee. Steube is one of three Republicans aiming to replace State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, in District 28.

▪ $187,896: Lorrane Ausley. The Democrat from Tallahassee is running for a similar district to the one she represented in the Florida House from 2000 to 2008. Ausley is running to replace Rep. Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda, D-Tallahassee, who cannot seek re-election because of term limits.

▪ $178,337: Randy Adam Fine. The Brevard County Republican is seeking to replace term-limited Rep. John Tobia. He is running in a Republican primary in District 53 against Andy Anderson, a Republican who has raised $21,665 for the campaign

▪ $155,159: Ralph E. Massullo Jr. The Republican is running for District 34, which covers parts of Citrus and Hernando counties. He is seeking to replace Rep. Jimmie Smith, who has filed to run for the Florida Senate.

Florida Senate

▪ $753,215: State Rep. Matt Gaetz. The Panhandle Republican is running to replace his dad, State Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who cannot run for reelection because of term limits.

▪ $667,465: George Broward Gainer. A Bay County commissioner, Gainer is challenging Gaetz for District 1. To launch his bid, Gainer, an automobile dealer, gave his campaign a $500,000 loan.

▪ $476,712: Lauren Book. The Democrat from Plantation is seeking the District 33 seat, which is currently held by term-limited Democrat Sen. Eleanor Sobel.

▪ $401,269: Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island. The incumbent so far faces no opposition for reelection to District 7.

▪ $364,309: Sen Anitere Flores, R-Miami. The incumbent so far faces no opposition for reelection to District 37.

Contact Jeremy Wallace at jwallace@tampabay.com or 850-224-7263. Follow @jeremyswallace.

  Comments