In what is shaping up as one of the more intriguing legislative contests in November, Rep. Darren Soto, D-Orlando, is matched against Republican Will McBride in a contest for the SD 14 open seat in Central Florida that represents parts of Orange County. Both candidates have open shots at their partys nominations with no opponents in the Aug. 14 primary election.
First elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2007, Soto represents parts of Orange and Osceloa counties. Sotos background as an attorney has shaped his course in Tallahassee, leading him to serve on the Judiciary Committee and the Civil Justice and the Justice Appropriations subcommittees.
So far in the 2012 election cycle, Soto has raised more than $94,000 and relied on almost $22,400 through in-kind donations. Soto has kept his powder dry, spending more than $21,000. The Democrat has increased the pace of his fundraising activities in recent months. During the second quarter of 2012, Soto brought in more than $62,700 in his campaign, used all of the above-mentioned in-kind donations and spent more than $17,500, leaving around $73,000 in the bank for the general election.
Orlando attorney McBride -- not to be confused with Bill McBride, the Democratic opponent of Jeb Bush in the 2002 election and the husband of former state CFO Alex Sink -- is best known for his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2006. McBride placed second in the Republican primary, taking 30 percent across the state but losing out to then-U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris. His name resurfaced as a possible candidate to enter the 2012 U.S. Senate contest but McBride did not enter that Republican primary.
McBride, the son-in-law of evangelical businessman Stuart Epperson who helped found Salem Communications and ran for Congress twice as a Republican in North Carolina during the 1980s, threw his hat in the ring for the state Senate in early May. Since that time, McBride has raised almost $42,500 and relied on $7,500 through in-kind donations. McBride has also loaned his campaign $205,000. So far, McBride has kept most of his money in the bank though he did spend more than $8,850 in the second quarter of 2012.
No other candidates have qualified in the race besides Soto and McBride.
Soto has been backed by the Florida Retail Federation, while other leaders of the business community -- including the Florida Chamber of Commerce and the Associated Industries of Florida -- have not waded into the race yet.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.