Early in the 2016 Presidential election cycle, Jeb Bush looked inevitable. Having amassed over $100 million in cash, countless endorsements from prominent and respected establishment Republicans, he was on a roll. That is, until the time came when his campaign needed more than the facade of inevitability, and actually, you know, start winning over real voters.
Like Bush in 2016, Ashley Moody is posting big endorsements, including outgoing Attorney General Pam Bondi, a handful of prominent prosecutors, and more than half of Florida’s county sheriffs. On the fundraising side, through the end of March, she’d collected close to $1.9 million in hard and soft money donations, and she’s touting that support the same way Jeb Bush’s campaign did last cycle.
Speaking of Pam Bondi, perhaps there’s an even more relevant case study we can look at to better analyze Moody’s strength relative to her opponents. During the 2010 campaign cycle, Bondi faced off against another seemingly formidable “Jeb-like” candidate: anyone remember Jeff Kottkamp?
Few people outside of Florida political circles do.
But in 2010, he looked an awful lot like Jeb Bush looked in 2016: inevitable. And an awful lot like Ashley Moody looks right now. At least on paper. Consider the following quote from Kottcamp himself, as told to former Tampa Tribune reporter William March:
“Our strategy has been to get endorsements from Republican leaders throughout the state who will go out and raise money for us,” he said. Kottkamp has endorsements from 22 of the 28 Republican sheriffs, more than 40 state legislators and more members of Congress than Bondi or Benson, he said.
That same story showed Kottkamp as the frontrunner in a Mason-Dixon poll, pulling in 13 percent of likely voters versus just 10 percent for Bondi.
And there’s still more similarities on the fundraising side. In March of 2010, Kottkamp had already collected $590,000 to just $421,000 for Bondi, or 140% of Bondi’s total campaign haul. Add some zeros in the 2018 cycle and you’ll see a similar picture: Ashley Moody’s previously mentioned $1.9 million raised so far is a formidable total. She’s up comfortably in fundraising over State Rep. Jay Fant, who’s managed to pull in $1.2 million for himself.
But hold on a minute. There’s also State Rep. Frank White, who actually has a couple of substantial cash advantages over Moody and Fant. White has raised $2.3 million, and what’s more, White’s hard dollar fundraising total is equal to Ashley Moody’s total fundraising. That gives him a hard dollar cash advantage of over $600,000, money that is more flexible and in many cases, effective than soft dollars.
Moody may .be the establishment favorite, she may have an endorsement advantage, but she’s facing two well-funded opponents who are both raising questions about her conservative bona fides. When considered in that light, Ashley Moody’s campaign looks an awful lot like Jeff Kottkamp’s 2010 effort, and might not be long before she asks supporters to “please clap.”