Breaking down the campaign cash in Southwest Florida

Reporter: Lauren Sweeney
Published: Updated:
(Credit: MGN)

Republican candidates in Southwest Florida outraised and outspent Democrats by huge margins for the 2020 general election cycle based on a WINK News review of federal, state and local campaign finance data.

For example, Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, a Republican, raised more than $580,000 through the end of October. Just to get through the Republican primary, he spent at least $85,000 on broadcast media.

In contrast, the Democratic candidate for the US House 19th District, Cindy Banyai, had only raised a little over $160,000 through the end of October. Her Republican competitor, Byron Donalds, has brought in more than $2 million.

The disparity doesn’t end there. Every local race in Southwest Florida provides an example of a well-funded Republican against a Democrat without much campaign cash.

“Political contributions really reflect the level of political competition between the two parties,” said Dr. Peter Bergerson, a political science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

DOCUMENT: Southwest Florida Campaign Finance Cheat Sheet

He said it’s not surprising that Republicans outpace Democrats in contributions in Southwest Florida because people tend to donate to candidates that they believe will win and historically Southwest Floridians overwhelmingly support Republicans.

But the people and players donating to a local race can provide a voter with insight into who they are electing to represent them, according to Bergerson. He said typically donors are making that contribution as a way to get a seat to the table for decisions that may be made.

“What you really want to do is monitor it from the beginning to the end look at the money and look at the behavior of the politician,” he said.

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