NEW PORT RICHEY - Attorney Jim Mathieu is spending $10,500 of his own money to try to win the Republican nomination for Mike Fasano’s old legislative seat — but he’s still being outspent 5-to-1 by frontrunner Bill Gunter.
In the only campaign finance reports filed before Tuesday’s special primary election, Gunter reported raising $83,310 in the month since he filed to run. That figure includes a $20,000 cash infusion from the House Republican Campaign Committee, which also donated nearly $10,000 in polling.
Most of that money has come from outside of Pasco County. House Speaker Will Weatherford and presumptive 2017 Speaker Richard Corcoran hosted a fundraiser in Tallahassee that helped bring in thousands from lobbyists, PACS and corporations. Gunter could count on one hand the number of donors who actually live in District 36, including funeral home owner Thomas Dobies ($500) and developer Trey Starkey ($250.)
Gunter spent nearly $69,000, mostly on direct mail advertising and campaign consultants, according the report filed late Friday night. Gunter returned a $500 contribution from Lake Mary Republican Christopher Dorworth, who was slated to be House Speaker next year but lost his reelection campaign in 2012.
Gunter is the pastor at Redeemer Community Church. He challenged incumbent County Commissioner Jack Mariano in 2012 but lost in the primary.
Mathieu, the president of Pasco’s Republican Executive Committee, raised just $4,400 in cash contributions during the same period. A few notable donors include attorney Declan Mansfield ($500), Republican State Committeeman Bill Bunting ($250) and Withlacoochee River Electric executive Ronnie Deese ($200).
Mathieu also had to pay $1,782 qualifying fee to make the ballot. Gunter and first-time candidate Jeromy Harding qualified using the petition method. Harding reported raising $9,887 for the primary, but nearly half came from personal loans or contributions from his family businesses and relatives.
As of Monday, more than 2,000 mail-in ballots had been received by Pasco Elections Supervisor Brian Corley. The winner faces Democrat Amanda Murphy on Oct. 15.
Murphy, a vice president for Raymond James Financial, has raised $38,587 including $19,500 in cash and in-kind contributions from the Florida Democratic Party. Some of her donors include former county commissioner Michael Cox ($500), 2012 gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink ($500) and former USF President Betty Castor ($250.) The Pasco County Democratic Executive Committee paid her qualifying fee, and Murphy loaned the campaign $2,000.