Eagles background would sink many politicians. His father Greg was one of Charlie Crists bagmen and ended up in federal prison after pleading guilty to six counts of bank fraud, mail fraud and wire fraud.
Eagle himself was a top Crist aide and had a credit card issued by the RPOF during Jim Greers time leading the party. Crist jumping ship on the GOP and later joining the Democrats didnt seem to have hurt Eagle. Besides the Crist ties -- a major hindrance with many conservative Republicans -- Eagle has other baggage. Back in April, Eagle was busted for DUI in Tallahassee during the final days of the legislative session.
But Eagles a survivor, even as he now has three opponents lining up to take him on in the Republican primary. Attorney Terry Cramer seems to be the largest threat to Eagle and he raised $5,000 in May, bringing in almost $11,650 since filing last spring. Having switched parties after being the Democratic candidate against Trey Radel for a congressional seat in 2012, Jim Roach is struggling to bring in money for his Florida House bid. Brandon Ivey got a late start by entering last week.
After session ended and Eagle headed back home, he did exactly what he had to do by putting his nose to the grindstone to raise money. In May, Eagle raised $31,200 and spent less than $5,050. So far, Eagle has raised $147,000 and spent $50,200. That should be more than enough to hold off his current batch of opponents. Eagle is also lucky to have too many rivals, dividing Republican primary voters who oppose him by giving three different options.
Eagle could still draw an opponent, of course, and he can be pardoned if he keeps an eye on the Division of Elections next week as qualifying draws to a close. But despite his various missteps, including the DUI charge, he is in surprisingly good shape to keep his seat. While he apologized, Eagle didnt resign his seat and said he plans to fight the DUI charges. More importantly, he kept his focus on fundraising. Eagles impressive haul in May may well prove decisive, keeping big-name challengers out of the race, leaving less credible candidates in the August primary.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.