Democrat Keith Fitzgerald has outraised Congressman Vern Buchanan – fundraising chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee – for the third consecutive month. Rep. Buchanan continues to remain vulnerable in the face of a bevy of ethics scandals and legal trouble. With Fitzgerald’s impressive fundraising haul and polling showing this race within striking distance, it remains a top target of state and national Democrats. Furthermore, it’s clear Buchanan’s scandals remain a liability for both himself, and the entire Republican Party in Florida.
By Jeremy Wallace, Herald-Tribune / Friday, August 3, 2012
For the third consecutive fundraising period, Democrat Keith Fitzgerald has suprising outraised incumbent U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, in their battle to represent Sarasota and Manatee counties in Congress.
In the latest campaign finance reports that track donations from July 1 to July 25, Fitzgerald reported raising $66,049. In the same period, Buchanan raised $20,444, but had to refund $5,000 because one donor had given him more than the maximum allowed.
It is the third consecutive set of fundraising reports in which Fitzgerald has out raised Buchanan. Since the start of the year, the FEC records now show Fitzgerald, who lives in Sarasota, has raised about $738,000 in campaign contributions. Buchanan has raised about $582,000, not including a $250,000 personal loan to his campaign.
Buchanan likely will close that gap some because of Monday when he held a private fundraiser in Lakewood Ranch with basketball commentator Dick Vitale.
Buchanan’s disadvantage in contributions over the year is a surprising development for an incumbent who is the fundraising chairman for the National Republican Congressional Committee and a member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, which is typically a boon for candidates seeking to raise money.
By virtue of money raised before Fitzgerald got in the race, Buchanan still has more money overall in his campaign account heading into the fall. Buchanan has just over $1.4 million compared to Fitzgerald’s $670,000.
Buchanan, a car dealership owner, and Fitzgerald, a college professor, are fighting for the newly redrawn 16th Congressional District, which includes all of Sarasota County and most of Manatee County.
As I reported earlier this year, Buchanan has been hampered partly by legal expenses that have eaten up his campaign donations. Read that story here.