With one check, Orlando Republican Ben Griffin snagged the cash on hand lead away from Democratic Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith in House District 49.
Griffin, who works as a learning assistant at Valencia College, received a $50,000 contribution from the Republican Party of Florida during the reporting period covering June 22 through July 6. That haul instantly launched him past Smith in the money race.
Since filing for HD 49 last month, Griffin has raised $53,160 for his campaign. He had $51,084 in the bank on July 6. That big check from RPOF will be the last to head to Griffin’s campaign account, as Florida law limits political parties to $50,000 in contributions to individual candidates.
Smith has raised more overall, but his $1,400 in fundraising and $1,516 in spending during the two-week reporting period saw him tread water in cash on hand.
He reported seven contributions included a $500 from a political committee tied to Fort Lauderdale Democratic Rep. Bobby DuBose as well as a half dozen contributions from individual donors. His spending tally included $768 for lodging and parking at the recent Leadership Blue Gala.
In all, he has raised $69,925 for his re-election bid and has $40,730 at the ready.
Smith was first elected to the Florida House in 2016, when he defeated independent candidate Shea Silverman by 38 points. Prior to his election, HD 49 had been held for one term by Republican Rep. Rene Plasencia, who now represents neighboring House District 50.
HD 49 covers part of northern Orange County including the main campus of the University of Central Florida — the alma mater of both Smith and Griffin — as well as the communities of Union Park and Rio Pinar.
Registered Democrats make up about 41 percent of the HD 49 electorate, while Republicans hold a 26 percent share. The district voted plus-26 in favor of Hillary Clinton two years ago.