Weatherford Bringing in the Bucks for Fall Campaign

By: Jim Saunders News Service of Florida | Posted: January 16, 2012 3:55 AM
Speaker-in-waiting Will Weatherford continues to overshadow all other House candidates in raising cash for this fall's elections, collecting $130,400 during the final three months of 2011, new reports show.

In all, the Wesley Chapel Republican, who is set to become House speaker in November, has amassed a total of $397,150 to help fuel his re-election bid in District 61. Rep. Dana Young, R-Tampa, has the next-highest amount, with $248,324.

Incumbent Republicans dominated House fundraising between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, with 11 bringing in more than $60,000 in contributions, according to reports posted on the Department of State's website.

Freshman Rep. Ben Albritton, R-Wauchula, had the second-best quarter behind Weatherford, raising $98,462. He was followed by Rep. Chris Dorworth, a Lake Mary Republican who is slated to become speaker in 2014. Dorworth raised $95,895 during the period.

The fourth quarter of 2011 and the early days of January 2012 were the last chance for House incumbents to raise campaign cash until after the legislative session. Lawmakers are barred from accepting contributions during the session, which started Tuesday and is scheduled to end March 9.

Other top fundraisers during the quarter included Rep. Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, with $90,801; Rep. Jose Felix Diaz, R-Miami, with $87,860; Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach, with $84,004; and Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, with $76,900.

When counting earlier quarters, a dozen incumbent Republican have raised more than $150,000 for their campaigns. After Weatherford and Young, Dorworth has the next-highest total at $220,095.

Other top overall fundraisers include Rep. Matt Hudson, R-Naples, with $192,613; Rep. Daniel Davis, R-Jacksonville, with $189,133; Rep. Steve Crisafulli, R-Merritt Island, with $175,865; and Rep. Richard Corcoran, R-New Port Richey, with $175,787.

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