Former state Rep. Mike Clelland‘s bid to return to Tallahassee is getting a high-octane start with a reported one-month fundraising haul of $210,000 for his campaign in the Florida Senate District 13 race.

That includes money his official campaign is reporting to the Florida Division of Elections, $140,00, and money raised by his political committee, Common Sense for Central Florida, $70,000.

Through redistricting the seat now held by term-limited Senate President Andy Gardiner, an Orlando Republican, has become very attractive to Democrats. It has drawn in much more of the largely-Democratic and heavily-Hispanic east Orange County neighborhoods.

Consequently, the race has attracted another Democratic former state representative, Linda Stewart, along with Democratic former Orange County School Board member Rick Roach. Others have been rumored to be considering entering the race too.

Clelland’s haul puts them all on notice. Both he and Stewart entered the race in January. Stewart has not yet reported any fundraising numbers. Roach’s January numbers also are not in yet, but in the prior seven months of his candidacy, he raised $55,000.

The Republicans have a formidable candidate of their own in Realtor Dean Asher, who had raised $168,000 in his campaign, plus $199,000 in his political committee, Allegiant Friends For Florida, in 2015.

Clelland, a former firefighter who now is an attorney with Morgan & Morgan, shocked the political world in 2012 when he upset House Speaker-designee Chris Dorworth in the Seminole County-based House District 29. But two years later, former state Rep. Scott Plakon made his comeback, knocking off Clelland in an election when Republicans swept back their 2012 losses in Central Florida.

About The Author

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at

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