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Politics

GOP Senate Hopefuls Aaron Bean, Mike Weinstein Raking in Big Cash on First Coast

July 12, 2012 - 6:00pm

With Sen. Steve Wise, R-Jacksonville, headed to the sidelines due to term limits, two Republicans -- former Rep. Aaron Bean and Rep. Mike Weinstein, R-Jacksonville -- are battling it out in a costly primary to replace him in representing parts of Duval and Nassau counties.

As the Aug. 14 primary looms, both Republicans are raising money but also spending it on television ads and other campaign expenses.

Bean, a former state representative who represented parts of Nassau County, has been running television ads touting the endorsement of former Gov. Jeb Bush. In the ad, Bush praises Bean for having been tough in Tallahassee and assuring First Coast Republicans that he is a solid conservative.

I am excited to have Jeb on the Bean team, and I thank him for his ongoing help and support for my campaign, said Bean when the ad was unveiled on Thursday. Like Jeb, I have a passion for public service and a strong conservative voice. I am willing to make those tough decisions despite opposition and our community can count on me to continue to work to cut government waste and reduce taxes on our hard-working Floridians.

Bean raised almost $31,000 during the second quarter of 2012 and spent more than $79,000. With a month to go until the primary, Bean has a healthy war chest. At the end of the second quarter, Bean had raised more than $372,000 and spent more than $177,500 -- giving him around $195,500 in the bank for the crucial last weeks of the campaign.

Weinstein, who did not switch from running for the House to the Senate until early April, raised more than $72,500 in the second quarter of 2012 but spent more than $135,500 from his war chest. In the 2012 campaign cycle, Weinstein has raised more than $185,500 and spent almost $190,500. Having loaned his campaign $150,000, Weinstein had around $145,000 left to spend in the last six weeks before the primary.

Like Bean, Weinstein has been running television ads but he is counting on his base in Jacksonville to come out to support his candidacy. Weinstein, who is known to Jacksonville residents for his two unsuccessful mayoral bids, served as executive director for the citys Economic Development Commission and was instrumental in the citys efforts to host a Super Bowl.

Looking to get out the vote in Jacksonville, Weinstein spent the past week trumpeting the endorsements of elected officials in Duval County. Former Duval County School Board Chairwoman Nancy Broner and current members Becky Couch and Fel Lee backed Weinstein in recent days.

The winner of the Republican primary will face two write-in candidates and Democratic candidate former Ambassador Nancy Soderberg who worked in the Clinton administration.

Soderberg, a distinguished visiting scholar in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and director of the Public Service Program at the University of North Florida, was named president of the Connect U.S. Fund, an alliance of foundations working to promote a foreign-policy agenda characterized by international cooperation and progressive ideas. She served as an alternate representative to the United Nations and on the National Security Council as deputy assistant to the president for National Security Affairs.

Soderberg entered the race in the first half of June. As of the end of the second quarter, she has raised more than $24,000 and loaned her campaign $12,500. With no opposition in the Democratic primary, Soderberg has been keeping her powder dry, spending less than $1,850 so far in the election cycle.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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