TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Florida Democrats contend the rumors of their demise are greatly exaggerated.
“The state of Florida is always in play,” Alan Clendenin, a member of the executive committee of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said. “Last gubernatorial race, we had over 8 million people vote, and we lost by a little over 32,000 votes. So, we are competitive. We are going to continue to be competitive.”
What’s not competitive at this point in the race is the fundraising.
Gov. Ron DeSantis has raised at least $96 million between his own coffers and his political action committee Friends of Ron DeSantis. Rep. Charlie Crist, the leading Democratic challenger, has raised about $8 million, with Nikki Fried at around $5 million and Fla. Sen. Annette Taddeo, R-Miami, around $1 million.
“It doesn’t matter if you have $100 million or $1 billion,” Clendenin said. “There’s gonna be x number of folks that will support the GOP, and x number that will support the Democratic nominee. We’re all competing for the small group of voters that are not in that block.”
The increasing national profile of DeSantis has some Democrats concerned about whether national voter groups will get involved and spend money in Florida, or skip the race to spend that money elsewhere if they feel Florida is not competitive and their money would be wasted.
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg, has held several high-profile political offices in Florida as a former Republican governor and attorney general and current Democratic congressman.
He said Democrats shouldn’t be worried about the money.
“It will come,” Crist said. “I’ll give you an example. So when Andrew Gillum, who was the last Democratic nominee for governor, got the nomination, he only had about $10,000 left in his bank account for the campaign. But between September and October of 2018, he raised almost $60 million.”
“That’s what happens to Florida,” Crist said.