Florida governor’s money race: Donors bailed before Corcoran did; Soros weighs in again

 

House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam at Mar-a-Lago in March for the Palm Beach County GOP’s Lincoln Day dinner. Corcoran last week abandoned his quest for governor and endorsed Putnam. (George Bennett/The Palm Beach Post)

House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’Lakes, didn’t formally abandon plans to run for governor until last week, but his contributor base appears to have bailed on the idea several weeks earlier.

Corcoran’s Watchdog PAC was raising more than $900,000 a month between last June and Jan. 9, when the 2018 legislative session began and lawmakers were barred from raising campaign money. When the session ended  — and with it, much of Corcoran’s clout — his PAC raised $249,750 during the last 11 days of March, but then only $49,545 in the entire month of April.

Watchdog PAC spent more than $3 million after Feb. 1, much of it on a statewide TV ad depicting Corcoran as tough on illegal immigration. Despite the red-meat messaging for Republican primary voters, Corcoran did not appear to make major inroads in a GOP race that already included Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Palm Coast.

Corcoran endorsed Putnam last week.

Watchdog PAC, which raised nearly $7 million, still had nearly $2 million in cash on hand at the beginning of May.

Other highlights of campaign finance reports released last week:

• Putnam remains the money leader with nearly $19 million in cash on hand between his campaign and Florida Grown PAC at the beginning of May.

• DeSantis has about $7 million in cash on hand. He’s running roughly even with Putnam in GOP primary polls despite spending less than $800,000 so far between his campaign and affiliated PAC.

• Democrat Philip Levine pumped another $2.2 million in personal money into the race last month, bringing his personal stake to nearly $8 million so far. Levine and a pro-Levine PAC have spent about $8 million on TV ads so far. He began May with about $3.5 million cash on hand.

• Democrat Gwen Graham raised about $1 million in April between her campaign and affiliated PAC. She began May with about $4.7 million in the bank.

• A political committee supporting Democrat Andrew Gillum got a $250,000 check from liberal megadonor George Soros in April. In all, Soros has given $450,000 and son Alex Soros has chipped in $50,000 to the Forward Florida PAC. Between the PAC and his campaign, Gillum began May with about $1.4 million in cash on hand.

• Democrat Chris King began May with about $1.6 million in the bank. The Winter Park businessman has put $2.1 million of his own money into the race.

 

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