Battling for an open seat in the Florida House representing parts of Hillsborough and Manatee counties, businessman Jake Raburn has the edge over his opponent for the Republican nomination and the Democrat in the race.
While stressing his conservatism and ties to the area, Raburn has also played up his connections to the agriculture community. Raburn, who is now with Hinton Farms, had worked for the state Department of Citrus and one of his biggest backers is Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.
The Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association and the Hillsborough County Farm Bureau have also thrown their support to Raburn.
Raburn has also garnered the support of some of the top leaders in the business community, including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Retail Federation. The Florida Medical Association is also behind him. On top of those, law enforcement is rallying behind Raburn, with the endorsements of Hillsborough County Sheriff David Gee and the Tampa and West Central Florida chapters of the PBA.
Looking at the money chase, Raburn has a solid lead over his opponents. Having entered the race in the middle of February, Raburn raised almost $76,500 by July 20 and relied on little more than $1,100 through in-kind donations. The bulk of Raburns war chest has remained in the bank. By July 20, he had spent around $21,650.
Standing in Raburns way for the Republican nomination is Brian Hollands. Currently with Hillsborough Community College, Hollands is known in the area for his work with the County Planning Commission, community activities and role with the local Republican party. He has been the president of the South Shore GOP since 2009.
Since entering the race in the middle of April, Hollands has done little to show that he will be able to keep up with Raburn's fundraising. As of July 6, he had only raised $4,500 and spent more than $2,400. His campaign filed a waiver with the state regarding financial activities from July 7 through July 20.
Whoever emerges with the Republican nomination will face a Democratic opponent in November. Businessman and Army veteran Bruce Barnett has no opposition in the Democratic primary. Barnett is taking aim at Republican rule in Tallahassee, insisting that the GOP is undermining education in the Sunshine State and hurting the budget by reducing corporate taxes.
Having entered the race in the middle of February, Barnett raised less than $1,150 and has relied on $5,000 loaned to the campaign. But he has been keeping his powder dry. By July 20, Barnett had spent less than $230.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.