The Democratic race for the nomination in Florida’s 9th Congressional District is turning to a fundraising battle in which two candidates are claiming leads, and a third is not far behind.

Orlando Democratic State Sen. Darren Soto claimed victory Monday after reporting his campaign had raised $156,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015, $30,000 more than his nearest competitor, Susannah Randolph of Orlando.

And while Randolph claimed victory Sunday evening for having the most money left in the bank at the end of the year, the Soto campaign disputed that, contending that some of Randolph’s $225,000 campaign money is earmarked for the general election, unavailable for the Democrat the primary.

So Soto’s campaign claims that the $213,000 they have on hand is more than any other candidate in the primary election.

“Our small donors continue to fuel our campaign. Make no mistake — the stakes are high in this election: we must keep the 9th District in Democratic hands. That’s what my campaign is all about,” Soto stated in a news release issued by his campaign.

Two two have been running neck-and-neck in campaign contributions since both entered the race last summer. Overall, Soto has raised $340,000 and Randolph $293,000.

There are several other candidates in the race, including Dr. Dena Minning of Orlando, who’s not distantly behind them in either money raised or cash on hand.

Minning reported she has raised $150,000 and had $129,000 left at the end of the year.

Unlike Randolph and Soto, most of the money that Minning has raised, at least in contributions that include itemized individual donor information, has been coming from out of state, according to FEC filings. She has raised more than $24,000 in California, $14,000 in Massachusetts, $10,000 in Washington D.C. and $18,000 from other states, compared with just over $17,000 from Florida, among itemized contributions.

Soto by comparison has raised 94 percent of his itemized individual donations in Florida, and Randolph, 86 percent.

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 scott@floridapolitics.com.

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