Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke reported raising $9,301 in his first month of campaigning for the Orange County mayor’s job in 2017.

That starts him off well behind the two leading candidates in the money chase so far, Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demings and Rob Panepinto, president of Orlando Inc., the Orlando area chamber of commerce. They each announced or posted their campaign finance numbers earlier this week. Yet Clarke said he has not begun serious campaign fundraising yet, and has several major events set before the end of the year.

The October reports for the fourth major Orange County mayoral candidate, Orange County School Board Chairman Bill Sublette, have not yet been posted on the Orange County Supervisor of Elections website.

In October, Clarke picked up 20 checks, including a $1,000 donation to himself, and five other maximum-amount checks from businesses and individuals. He also received about $900 in in-kind contributions. He spent just $80, leaving him with $9,220 in cash at the start of November.

By contrast, Panepinto raised nearly $240,000 in the month of October, including $100,000 he donated to his own campaign. About $172,000 of that went into his official campaign fund, and another $69,000 went into his independent political committee, Vision Orange County. His big checks to Vision County included $10,000 from banker Sal Nunziata of Orlando, $9,000 from health care professional Davian Santana of Clermont, $8,000 from businessman David Carmany of Winter Park, and $7,000 each from Shawn Bush of Orlando and the 2013 Leford Revocable Trust.

Demings, who entered the race in July, maintains a slight edge in the money chase. He reported raising $60,676 in his official campaign fund and another $55,000 in his unofficial political committee, Orange County Citizens for Smart Growth, in the month of October. Between them, he has raised $251,412. His biggest checks to his independent committee were $25,000 apiece from the Colonial Medical Center and Mauricio Chiropractic Group, both of Orlando, and $5,000 from the Community Leadership PAC of Arlington, Va. He has spent $19,000 from his campaign committee.

Like Clarke and Panapinto, Sublette just entered the race, and did not file any previous campaign finance reports.


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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