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Barbara Sharief, the first candidate in the race, and Omari Hardy, the outspoken establishment critic, are lagging in fundraising for a hotly contested race for Congress in South Florida.
Faring better, but not especially well, is Perry Thurston.
None is close to the $1 million mark. As the campaigns got underway, several candidates set that fundraising goal to run effective campaigns in the special election to succeed the late Congressman Alcee Hastings.
No one is doomed financially. Summer isn’t especially good for fundraising in South Florida politics, but the candidates have months to raise money and campaign before the Nov. 2 Democratic primary that will effectively decide who wins the 20th Congressional District.
Campaign finance reports filed in July show clear differences among the five congressional hopefuls who are all current elected officials. The reports show fundraising and spending through June 30, so their financial positions could have changed.
Each candidate has made an irrevocable commitment to run. Under Florida’s law requiring an elected official to resign before qualifying to run for another office if the terms overlapped, all five signed resignation letters that go into effect when the special general election takes place in January.
Holness raised the most money — as many people expected from the candidate who has been portraying himself as the leading candidate to succeed Hastings.
Holness declined to discuss his fundraising in any detail. “We’re doing well. God is good. In spite of all this stuff that they might throw at me, I’m doing all right. Thank you,” he said.
DuBose’s showing was somewhat of a surprise.
“It was kind of humbling, to be honest. I just reached out to friends, family, fraternity brothers, church members, and folks really came through,” DuBose said, adding “it’s always one thing when folks are encouraging you, and saying they’re with you, and another thing when they’re really investing in the campaign.”
“It was very encouraging,” he said.
Holness was helped by advance preparations to run. When he announced his candidacy six days after Hastings died, he said he had planned to get in the race in May. So he was ready to run and to begin raising money.
An early start didn’t help Sharief. She announced her candidacy in November. Though she’s had support from several other county commissioners — Holness has never been popular among his colleagues — she has lagged in fundraising.
Sharief said money isn’t the most important factor in the race. “I think that my experience and my platform is going to carry me through to the finish line,” she said. “I’m looking to continue to raise money and doing what I have to do to win.”
The three legislator-candidates announced their candidacies on April 19, 20 and 28. But they were held back in their earliest days by the final frenzy of the annual legislative session, which concluded April 30.
Hardy, who fell just short of the $100,000 mark, said he isn’t deterred.
“They might have a money advantage right now, but we will have the money and the grassroots support,” Hardy said. “This is a once-in-a-generation election, and I think voters will go to the ballot box trying to elect the best person for the job. I don’t think you can buy that.”
The Power Lunch – Florida Politics Newsletter
A lunch-hour look at what’s trending in Florida politics.
Hastings had served so long — he was first elected in 1992 — that the vacancy prompted a total of 26 people to announce their candidacies.
Only eight of the 16 declared Democrats have raised or spent more than token amounts of money, requiring them to file finance reports in July with the Federal Election Commission.
Unless the others raised more in the last month or do so soon, they won’t get on the ballot.
Officially becoming a candidate — as opposed to someone proclaiming they’re running — requires collecting 1,168 signatures, which have to be from valid registered voters in the district, or paying a qualifying fee of $10,440, which is due by noon Aug. 10. (Candidates who want to run as no party affiliation/independent candidates pay less, $6,960.)
Candidates who reported raising and spending money:
- Bobby DuBose. Currently Florida state representative and co-Democratic Party leader in House. Former member Fort Lauderdale City Commission. Announced April 20. Raised $226,922, which works out to $3,229 a day.
- Omari Hardy. Currently Florida state representative. Former member of Lake Worth Beach City Commission. Announced April 28. Raised $94,341, which works out to $1,482 a day.
- Dale Holness. Currently Broward County commissioner, including term as county mayor. Former member of Lauderhill City Commission. Announced April 12. Raised $305,719, which works out to $3,870 a day.
- Barbara Sharief. Currently Broward County commissioner, including two terms as county mayor. Former Miramar city commissioner. Announced Dec. 3. Raised $73,642 during first half of 2016, which works out to $405 a day.
- Perry Thurston. Currently Florida state senator. Formerly Florida state representative, including term as House Democratic leader. Unsuccessful candidate for Democratic nomination for Florida attorney general. Announced April 19, 2021. Raised $ 182,074, which works out to $2,845 a day.
- Elvin Dowling. Dowling, of Miramar, a reverend, author and former Hastings intern. Announced candidacy on April 11. Raised $27,375, which works out to $338 a day.
- Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, CEO of a home health care company who has twice before run for Congress. Filed paperwork in January stating her intention to run. Raised $99,401 in second quarter, which works out to $1,080 a day. She lent $2.3 million of her own money into her campaign.
- Priscilla Taylor. Former Palm Beach County commissioner. Former state representative. Unsuccessful candidate for West Palm Beach mayor, 2019. Announced candidacy for different congressional seat in 2016 but withdrew before primary. Announced candidacy on April 14, 2021. Raised $23,910, which works out to $311 a day.