The end is in sight for residents of Pinellas County, Fla., where voters decide Tuesday who replaces the late, longtime Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young in Florida’s bellwether 13th Congressional District. The race between the former Sunshine State CFO and failed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink and Republican David Jolly, a former Young staffer turned lobbyist, has attracted national scrutiny and millions of dollars.
Sunlight’s tools have been tracking all the fundraising, ad buying, and name calling the whole way. While polls will open in less than 24 hours from the time of publication, it ain’t over ’till it’s over, as the saying goes. Campaign committees — and political groups from outside the state — are raising and spending money until the bitter end. Follow the arc of this election with Sunlight’s suite of trackers and learn how you can follow the money as the final campaign filings and ad buys roll in.
- Outside groups outspent the candidates and national party committees led the way: Real-Time FEC’s race page shows that of the nearly $12 million has already been spent on this election (although this figure will likely grow when candidates’ final campaign disclosures are in) $8.8 million was spent by non-candidate groups. Leading the pack were the national parties’ congressional campaign arms. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has spent more than $2.1 million pulling for a Sink win. Its GOP counterpart, the National Republican Congressional Committee, in spite of its sometimes-tense relationship with the its candidate, has been the biggest single backer of David Jolly, spending nearly $2 million. See the full list of outside spending here, displayed in real time.
- Sink outraised Jolly: By a more than 2:1 margin. As of most campaign filings from Feb. 19, Sink, who’s run for statewide office twice, has scooped up just under $2.7 million in receipts. Jolly, who’s in his first ever political contest as a candidate, raised a little less than $1.3 million over the course of the campaign.
- Last-minute money is still pouring in: Candidates have reported at least $91,712 in contributions in the past five days alone. Per regulations from the Federal Election Commission: During the final 20 days before an election, candidates must report any contribution of $1,000 or more. These 48-hour report of receipts are sent to the FEC and picked up automatically by Sunlight’s Real-Time. You can see the itemized list of donors on Real-Time’s race page.
- Most of the hard money came from outside of Florida: Around 60 percent of Sink’s campaign dough ($1.6 million as of the most recent campaign filings) came from out-of-state donors while Jolly raised 55 percent of his take from donors outside the Sunshine State. Fundraising invitations picked up by Sunlight’s Political Party Time show Sink was fully embraced by the Washington party circuit — on Feb.5 congressional heavyweights like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., as well as Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz (who represents Florida’s Gold Coast in the House) hosted a fundraising bash for Sink at the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington. Jolly’s campaign also got a cash infusion from inside the Beltway — a review of itemized contributions reveals his campaign received around $400,000 from sources in and around the nation’s capital. You can download and explore all of the candidates’ itemized contributions in CSV format on the candidate pages.
- They didn’t play nice: TV ads picked up by Ad Hawk show Pinellas’ war of words quickly got personal. Sink blasted her opponent as a friend of special interests who “lied about being a lobbyist,” while an ad from a conservative outside group, the American Action Network, told viewers that “everywhere Alex Sink goes, a mess follows,” attacking Sink’s record as a bank executive and Florida CFO, citing job cuts and a shrinking state pension fund.
- Come Tuesday night, we’ll know who spent their money more wisely.