PINELLAS PARK — GOP frontrunner David Jolly has substantially outraised both of his primary opponents since his campaign launched in November, according to his financial report to the Federal Election Commission shows.
The former lobbyist and longtime aide to the late Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young - whose former Congressional District 13 seat Jolly seeks - has raked in more than $388,000 since he announced his run in early November. State Rep.
Kathleen Peters has raised nearly $170,000 since announcing in mid November. Retired Marine Corps brigadier general and political newcomer Mark Bircher, meanwhile, has pulled in just under $60,000 in the weeks since he announced later in the month.
The three are vigorously campaigning ahead of a Jan. 14 Republican primary, with scores of campaign mailers, TV spots and yard signs highly visible throughout the district, which runs from Dunedin south to Tierra Verde, save for parts of downtown and south St. Petersburg. They’re also scheduled to participate in a series of forums focusing solely on the Republican primary, the first of which took place Thursday.
While Jolly has raised $218,000 more than Peters, his major opponent in the primary race, he only has $140,000 left in his war chest. Democrat Alex Sink, who has no primary opponent, has raised $1.14 million, of which she has spent $140,000.
Peters already has spent most of her money as well, and has about $17,500 on hand.
Peters and Jolly both spent much of their campaign donations to print and mail fliers attacking one another over the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare. The controversial health care overhaul has become the centerpiece of the election, with Jolly and Peters each accusing one another of being soft in their opposition to it.
As funds dwindle and time drains, various civic groups are holding candidate forums during the home stretch of the primary runup. A Thursday Pinellas County Young Republicans forum in Pinellas Park was the first to feature just the District 13 primary candidates and only the second one focusing on the race. Peters did not attend, citing a schedule conflict stemming from the late December death of her brother.
At least 150 people showed up despite the weather. Jolly rarely mentioned Peters, aside from remarking he wished she were there so they could debate health care reform, but several times he attacked Sink and her party.
“This race has always been about how much money the national Democrats and the (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) and (Rep.) Debbie Wasserman Schultz can pump into Pinellas County to make sure she takes this seat from Pinellas County,” Jolly said.
All three GOP candidates are scheduled to attend a Belleair Womens Republican Club forum today at the Belleair Country Club as well as a Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce event at the Tradewinds Island Resort on Monday morning.