The Fundraising Woes of Charlie Crist

By: Allison Nielsen | Posted: February 5, 2014 3:55 AM
Charlie Crist

Charlie Crist

Is Charlie Crist losing fundraising momentum? The former Republican governor made headlines when he raised $2.1 million in  November.  But, just two months later, his numbers tell a different tale.

In January, a political committee backing Crist raised only $375,000. Further analysis shows an even starker picture: two donors alone made up $200,000 of the total.

If it hadn’t been for those two donations -- one from Monte Friedkin and another from the Ferraro personal injury firm – the committee would have raised only $175,000.

Monte Friedkin, incidentally, is best known as a Florida Democratic political bankroller who hands out campaign checks as freely as he does advice on how to govern.

Crist launched his campaign in November, around the same time the new maximum contribution limits went into effect in Florida. Donors can now give $3,000 to statewide candidates – up significantly from the previous $500 limit. Initially, Crist reaped the benefits of the higher contribution allowances. That month, he raised more than $430,000 from donors who gave the maximum contribution. But, that number plummeted in December, when the Crist camp received only $141,000 from max donors.

As a Republican candidate, Crist raked in the dough. But as a Democrat, his numbers so far don’t stack up.

When asked in January if it was more difficult to raise money as a Democrat than as a Republican, Crist responded: “So far, no. It’s been wonderful.”

But when he ran as a Republican for governor in 2005, he raised $3.9 million from more than 8,600 donors – an average of more than $75,000 per day during the first two months of his campaign. In contrast, as a Democrat, Crist has raised less than $1.3 million from 5,900  donors, an average of only about $21,000 per day.

According to the Sun Sentinel, those close to Crist said “he needed to make his first priority raising money to show he can run a credible challenge to Scott.”

Crist went on to say that part of the reason he’s been mostly out of the limelight since announcing his candidacy is because he needed to raise money to “fend off” Gov. Rick Scott.

For a goal that’s Crist’s first priority, the quest to raise money isn’t showing a return on investment.

A majority of Crist’s donors are law firms or trial lawyers, but not as many large businesses and companies have been quick to lend a financial hand to the former governor.

Scott, on the other hand, is proving to be a fundraising powerhouse. What Crist raises in a month, Scott can raise from one check. In December, Let’s Get to Work, a political committee backing the governor, received a $490,000 contribution from a single donor.

Some observers believe Crist’s declining numbers are part and parcel of his campaign’s internal instability. His campaign team has had a series of operatives bail out, beginning in December when former campaign manager Bill Hyers, currently a hot Democratic commodity, called it quits. In January, Michael Hoffman, who was brought on as the campaign’s deputy finance director, also split from the campaign.

Omar Khan -- who was described by the Tampa Bay Times as “not an A-list campaign manager that one might expect for a marquee race like Florida's gubernatorial campaign” -- is set to replace Hyers this month.

Florida Republicans, however, believe Crist’s declining fundraising numbers point to distrust from members of his own party over his flip-flopping politics.

“Democrats don’t trust him,” said Susan Hepworth of the Republican Party of Florida. “They don’t want to donate to a guy who they don’t have any clue where he stands on issues.”

Should the trend continue for Crist, dwindling fundraising reports could spell trouble. Democrat Nan Rich, whose once invisible campaign has started gaining traction, has hastened her attacks on Crist’s record and could force him to spend money explaining his newfound progressive views to primary voters.   

With only a limited amount of trial lawyers left to pool contributions from, Crist will need to find a way to remain competitive if he makes it to the general election to face Scott and his campaign war chest.

Reach Tampa-based reporter Allison Nielsen at Allison@sunshinestatenews.com or follow her on Twitter at @AllisonNielsen.

Comments (5)

7:56AM FEB 6TH 2014
Joe, you are clinically right. But in reality depending on which county you are in in Florida the votes are manipulated through either absentee ballots or the Clint Curtis computer vote fixer chips Curtis invented for Tom Feeney and his pal Jeb Bush. All ballots are now counted by "optical scanners." In one county in 2008 the voters requested 17,000. absentee ballots. The supervisor of elections claims an amazing 9,000 of those ballots were not returned - Truth is they keep the absentee ballots in a tunnel in the back of voting office. "They" open the ballots and scan the ones they like and shred the ones they don't. That's the republican way - the democrats just work the ballots directly to the voters they know they can manipulate.

In St. Luicie County, Fl in Nov 2012 they had a voter turnout of 141% and the officials was able to explain that away! Clint Curtis says the chips he invented can be pre selected to give the preferred winner like 51% of the vote and the other 49 for instance. But the problem comes when there is more than two candidates in a race. In order to elect their preselected winner sometimes the results will show more votes were cast that actual voters are registered. The computer chips make the winner no matter how many votes it takes.

It was Governor Jeb Bush who pushed first the touchscreens (which was in use when Clint Curtis first made the chips) then they found out the optical scanners was actually easier to manipulate. The problem was Jeb had to pass an administrative order to block the counting of the paper ballots and he did. If we could hand count the ballots in Florida every election would have a different outcome!

So, as hard as CharLIE Crist and John Morgan work and as much money as they can collect - it is the one who holds those Clint Curtis chips and the people who install and manipulate them that will decide who wins the Florida Governor's office. CharLIE, Jim Greer and Marco Rubio got to independent and forgot Jeb was their Boss. Rubio suckered back up to Jeb for his push to Washington. Most likely the sinner will be Richard (Rick) Lynn Scott the former Dallas, Tx Bush family oil lawyer who partnered with Tom Hicks and George "Dubya" in the Texas Rangers. Who partnered with Richard Rainwater in HCA/ Columbia the second largest Medicare fraud in the USA coming in second only to MCI - Miguel Recarey and Jeb Bush (dialing for dollars to Washington for Recarey) Now Recarey is on the run wanted by the feds while their rest of these criminals are "ruining the state of Florida.
H.E. "Pete" Ashley
3:51PM FEB 5TH 2014
Crist's strings are being pulled by the "ambulance chasing, no tort reform group" primarily M&M.
12:56PM FEB 5TH 2014
Why bother to have elections. Just add up the pay to play money and declare the winner. Fascism at it's finest. Nan Rich's donations come from the people. The last time I looked you still had to be a person to vote. Power to the people.
A real Fla. Dem
12:37PM FEB 5TH 2014
I don't think anyone is too surprised that the well dried up. Like you said there are only so many lawyers to hit up.
10:44AM FEB 5TH 2014
Poop on fundraising scams that who gets the most money wins. Charlie Crist is well known and liked in Florida. Republican money is already spending lots of money with dirty lying adds against Mr. Crist. They are blaming Charlie for the 2006 recession. That recession was not only national but worldwide so your pointing your finger at Mr. Crist is typical of how lamb the GOP has become. Why not blame Charlie for shutting down the federal government. Why not blame Charlie for the Federal House for caving and bankrolling the debt ceiling. Why not blame Charlie Christ for the National debt. Idiot republicans are all over the place and can't put there own party together. This time in history if you gave the GOP a gun, they would shoot their eye out. We were republican and rerigistered as Independent voters a few years back because of GOP falling on there faces. Good example, the tea party, 1st thing GOP likes, now GOP runs from them. Charlie Crist gave Florida Marko Rubio and that was and is a great. Charlie Chris is for Medical Marijuana like 20 other States that care about there sick and needy. Dick Scott and his fellow republicans are still living and preaching 1930's reefer madness. Scott & fellow Republicans also fought hard to keep MM off the ballot and not allowing the people to vote. Dick Scott's companies stole from medicare hurting senior citizens for his own wealth. Dick Scott is not for the People, he's for himself and power.

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