Reporter William March has covered state and national politics since 1994. Email
Reporter Mike Salinero has covered Hillsborough County government since 2007. Email
Reporter James L. Rosica covers state government from the Tribune's Tallahassee bureau. Email
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LeMieux trails in Senate fundraising race
Posted Apr 13, 2012 by William March
Updated Apr 13, 2012 at 06:29 PM
George LeMieux has turned in the lowest 2012 first quarter fundraising total of the three leading candidates for U.S. Senate, $305,752.
But while LeMieux’s total for the quarter trailed well behind both his primary opponent, Rep. Connie Mack IV, and Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson, it leaves him with $1.2 million cash on hand, almost as much as Mack, his campaign announced today.
Nelson is by far the fundraising leader in the race, according to announcements from the three campaigns over the last week, with $1.6 million raised in the first three months of 2012, and $9.5 million in cash on hand.
Mack raised more than $1 million in the first quarter, but still has only $1.3 million on hand after announcing his campaign late last year.
LeMieux has shown some signs in recent weeks of beginning to overcome what may be his biggest problem in the primary, his long association with former Gov. Charlie Crist, now anathema to Republicans after he left the party to run as an independent against Marco Rubio in the 2010 Senate race. LeMieux has won three straw polls among small groups of party activists.
But he’s still the least known of the three top candidates, and what momentun he’s produced so far hasn’t been enough to generate big fundraising numbers. He raised $950,000 in the second quarter of 2011, his first reporting period as a candidate—a campaign phase in which most candidates get their best fundraising totals—but then dropped to $402,000 and $388,000 in the next two quarters.
“Cash on hand is what matters most and LeMieux and Mack the Fourth are neck in neck,” said his campaign manager Brian Seitchik.
When the primary race heats up, “We will have the resources necessary” get LeMieux’s message out and to blast Mack, he said.
But Mack campaign manager Jeff Cohen noted the quarter-to-quarter decline in LeMieux’s numbers and said, “George LeMieux’s weak fundraising performance is because his lackluster camapign of deperation has turned off supporters,” a reference to LeMieux attacks on Mack’s character.