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White makes financial splash in Cabinet race

Rep. Frank White (FL House of Representatives){ }

Bolstered by $1.5 million of his own money, state Rep. Frank White in less than a month has made it a three-way race --- in terms of money --- among the Republicans seeking to replace Attorney General Pam Bondi next year.

Meanwhile, in the race to replace Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, two lawmakers outpaced their rivals in October fundraising.

And state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who is running for a full term after being appointed to the Cabinet post in June, picked up $431,100 in October for his political committee.

With the 2018 general election a year away, state candidates and political committees faced a Monday deadline for filing reports showing finance activity through October.

Attorney General

White, a Pensacola Republican first elected to the House in 2016, posted $1.65 million in contributions in October, with $1.5 million of that coming from the candidate himself.

White had $1.73 million on hand in his campaign account to begin November in a GOP primary contest that also includes Rep. Jay Fant of Jacksonville and Ashley Moody, a former Hillsborough County circuit judge.

Besides his personal contributions, White picked up $51,000 from the Sansing family and their auto dealerships via 17 separate $3,000 contributions. White is chief financial officer and general counsel for the Sansing Dealer Group, a group of dealerships in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi.

The influx of cash put White's fundraising total ahead of the $1.2 million collected the past five months by Moody for her campaign account and the political committee Friends of Ashley Moody.

Moody, who received $10,112 in October from the Republican Party of Florida through in-kind donations of campaign staffing, posted $105,490 in contributions last month for her campaign account and $43,000 for the political committee.

Fant, meanwhile, had the weakest fundraising month but has totaled just under $1.2 million for his personal account and an associated political committee known as Pledge This Day.

Fant's war chest includes $750,000 of his own money that he put up in September.

Fant's political committee didn't bring in any money in October, while he picked up $12,358 for his personal campaign account.

Democratic candidate Ryan Torrens, an attorney from Hillsborough County, raised $9,934 in October. Since entering the contest on May 22, Torrens had raised a total of $49,106 while spending $42,401, as of Oct. 31.

Agriculture Commissioner

After a fund-raising slowdown in September as the state --- and the agriculture industry --- struggled with Hurricane Irma, fundraising revived in October for Republicans seeking to succeed the term-limited Putnam, a 2018 gubernatorial candidate.

Rep. Matt Caldwell, R-North Fort Myers, brought in $66,000 last month for his political committee Friends of Matt Caldwell, with another $45,235 raised for his campaign account.

Caldwell had raised a combined total of $1.37 million as of Oct. 31.

State Sen. Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, raised $39,855 in September for her campaign account, with another $46,500 raised for her political committee known as Saving Florida's Heartland.

Grimsley's two accounts had nearly $885,000 on hand when October came to a close.

The overall money leader in the contest remains self-funded former Rep. Baxter Troutman, R-Winter Haven.

While Troutman pulled in $23,500 for his campaign account last month, and for the second month posted no money being added to his political committee known as iGrow, his accounts had about $2.56 million on hand as of Oct. 31. Troutman put $2.5 million of his own money into the contest in June.

Meanwhile, Orlando businessman Paul Paulson dropped out of the agriculture-commissioner race while giving an endorsement to Caldwell.

On the Democratic side of the ledger, David Walker of Fort Lauderdale posted $595 in October, after posting $750 in September.

His campaign had raised $5,135 as of Oct. 31, in addition to $9,500 of his own money. He had spent $11,100.

Chief Financial Officer

Patronis has one announced Republican challenger, Antoanet Iotova of Hollywood, who as of Tuesday morning had yet to report raising any money.

Meanwhile, Patronis' political committee, known as Treasure Florida, collected chunks of money last month. They included $50,000 from Florida Jobs PAC, a political arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce, and $25,000 contributions from Gulf Power, Medallion Homes in Sarasota and Patronis' family restaurant in Panama City, Capt. Anderson's.

Patronis, who formally entered the 2018 contest on Nov. 1, had raised $653,850 for the political committee as of Oct. 31. He will not have to report contributions to his campaign account until December.

In the Republican wings may be Thonotosassa Sen. Tom Lee, a former Senate president who ran unsuccessfully for state chief financial officer in 2006.

Lee's political committee, “The Conservative,” hauled in $211,000 in October and had more than $2.28 million on hand.

Former Sen. Jeremy Ring, the only Democrat in the chief financial officer contest, raised nearly $52,000 in October for his campaign and an allied political committee known as Florida Action Fund.

The two accounts had a combined $328,719 on hand when November began.

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