TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida Gov. Rick Scott continues to set aside millions for his 2014 re-election campaign, putting considerable distance between himself and his announced challengers. Scott largely financed his initial campaign for governor out of his own pocket. But as an incumbent he is now drawing in large donations to a political committee he set up.
That committee, Let's Get to Work, raised more than $4.1 million during the last three months and it has raised nearly $14 million since Scott revived it during the summer of 2011.
By contrast former Sen. Nan Rich raised more than $39,000 in the last three months. Rich also received more than $31,000 in support from the Florida Democratic Party to pay for campaign staff.
Rich remains, possibly for now, the leading challenger against Scott since she has raised more than $160,000 since jumping into the governor's race last year. There more than a dozen other candidates running for governor but most of them have raised little or no money.
Speculation continues to mount that former Gov. Charlie Crist will run for his old job as a Democrat. But he has not yet officially joined the race.
Crist, who was elected in 2006 as a Republican, already has considerable name recognition and can afford to stay out of the race for now. But the longer he does it will give Scott a chance to keep building up his campaign accounts.
Scott's political committee can raise unlimited amounts under Florida law. The committee, which received large checks this past quarter from Florida Power & Light and U.S. Sugar and many other companies, can use its money on TV ads as long as they don't say "vote for'' or "vote against'' a particular candidate.
Other statewide candidate seeking offices next year also filed new reports this week.
Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, once seen as a potential Republican rival to Scott, is already amassing a large campaign account for his re-election.
Putnam quietly began his 2014 re-election campaign this past spring. His first campaign report showed he has already raised nearly $600,000 since mid-April. His one announced opponent, Democrat Thaddeus Hamilton from Sunrise, has raised $760.
"I'm just happy to have the opportunity to serve and grateful for the support of nearly 2,000 donors,'' Putnam said about his first round of fundraising.
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater reported raising nearly $105,000 this past quarter. He has now raised nearly $200,000 overall for his re-election campaign. But Atwater is also getting significant financial support from the Republican Party of Florida. Atwater has received nearly $400,000 from the party to pay for campaign staff and consulting services.
Attorney General Pam Bondi did not have to file a report since she did not open her re-election account until last week.