TALLAHASSEE — Ungodly.
That’s how a fundraising email Sunday from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist described the amounts of money being raised by Republicans.
And as state candidates and political committees finished filing August finance reports Friday night, the cash chasm between Republicans and Democrats grew wider.
Exhibit A: Governor Ron DeSantis’ political committee raised nearly $5.52 million in August and had about $53 million on hand as of the end of the month. The committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, raised almost $46 million during the first eight months of the year.
While the committee will play a key role in DeSantis’ 2022 re-election bid, the money has rolled in before the incumbent has even opened a formal campaign account. That account, when opened, will provide another avenue to raise money.
The DeSantis committee’s largest contributions in August were $500,000 from the Republican Governors Association and $500,000 from Richard and Elizabeth Uihlein of Lake Forest, Ill. Richard Uihlein is a major national Republican donor.
But the committee also received small-dollar contributions from across the country as DeSantis has become a prominent foe of Democratic President Joe Biden. In a fundraising email Friday, DeSantis played on the anti-Biden sentiment in the GOP.
“I WILL continue to remind Joe Biden that I am here to stay, and I WILL continue to defend our Constitution and the jobs of my fellow Floridians,” the email said. “If we give in to this federal overreach now, the power that be will be emboldened to evade the Constitution even more.”
Crist, a former Republican governor turned Democratic congressman, and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried are competing for the Democratic nomination to run against DeSantis. But DeSantis has dwarfed them in raising money — and they also face spending large amounts in next year’s primary.
Crist raised a total of $700,000 in August for his campaign account and the political committee Friends of Charlie Crist, the new finance reports show. Combined, the committee and campaign account had nearly $2.5 million on hand as of Aug. 31.
In the fundraising email Sunday, Crist described a “Republican juggernaut” that has narrowed the Democrats’ traditional edge in voter registration.
“Florida Republicans aren’t just building a massive force and coming for our voter registration advantage … they’re also raising ungodly sums of money,” the Crist email said.
Fried raised about $418,000 for her campaign account and the political committee Florida Consumers First in August. She had a combined total of $2.82 million on hand as of Aug. 31.
Fried has been one of the most-vocal critics of DeSantis’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and said in a fundraising email Friday that she has “stepped up” to provide leadership on the issue.
“The past few months have proved that DeSantis is the most dangerous governor in America,” the Fried email said. “He’s put our children at risk by banning school mask requirements and played politics at every turn in this pandemic.”
While the governor’s race draws most of the attention, Republicans also have built large financial cushions for the three state Cabinet races on next year’s ballot — while it remains unclear whether prominent Democrats will run for the seats.
Attorney General Ashley Moody’s political committee, Friends of Ashley Moody, raised nearly $196,000 in August and had about $2.27 million on hand at the end of the month. Moody has not drawn a Democratic opponent.
State Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis last month raised about $193,000 for his campaign account and for his political committee, known as Treasure Florida. Patronis, who also has not drawn a Democratic opponent, had a combined total of nearly $2.45 million on hand.
Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican who entered the race this month for agriculture commissioner, heads at least four political committees that give him a big financial edge. He created a new committee, Friends of Wilton Simpson, in August and seeded it with $500,000 from another of his committees, known as the Jobs for Florida committee.
Jobs for Florida and Simpson’s two other committees — known as Florida Green PAC and Future Florida — each had more than $1 million on hand as of the end of August, the reports posted on the state Division of Elections website show.
Democrat Ryan Morales and Republicans Richard Earl Olle Jr. and James Shaw have opened accounts for the agriculture commissioner’s race but have raised little money.