Orange County mayoral candidate Jerry Demings is opening wide his big campaign money chest to buy TV time and inundate the county with mailers in the closing weeks of the Aug. 28 election campaign.

The latest campaign finance reports, filed Friday, show that Demings’ campaign and independent political committee spent more than $300,000 in the two weeks of mid-July. His campaign spent at least $45,000 on TV time for commercials and at least $175,000 on mailers during that period, plus another $17,000 on website advertising and TV commercial production, according to reports with the Orange County Supervisor of Elections.

His political committee, Orange County Citizens for Smart Growth, spent another $60,000 on unspecified media advertising.

That puts in gear the final month between Demings, Orange County Sheriff for the past 10 years, and his lesser-funded opponents for Orange County mayor, Winter Park entrepreneur Rob Panepinto and Orange County Commissioner Pete Clarke.

Demings first hit the TV airwaves last week with small buys for his first commercial, “Leadership that Cares,” which offers the visuals of Demings in and out of uniform shaking hands and smiling with brief highlights of his career. He then promises “strong leadership … better jobs … safer streets … and to unify our county during times of challenge and division” if elected mayor.

Demings reported raising $14,525 for his official campaign and another $5,000 for his committee during the period of July 7-20. That put his total raised to $1.19 million. His spending of $303,119 during those two weeks is almost twice what his campaign had spent in the previous 12 months. And it left him with $719,000 still in the two funds on July 20.

If no one gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the nonpartisan Aug. 28 election, the top two move on to a Nov. 6 showdown.

Panepinto reported raising $16,735 for his campaign, and spending $65,212, mostly on advertising, during the month. He’s raised $485,177 so far in that fund and another $211,899 in his independent political committee, Vision Orange County. With the spending, the two funds end July with about $267,000 left.

Clarke raised $3,550 during the two-week period and only spent a couple thousand dollars. To date, he’s raised $306,000, though $200,000 of that came from his own pocket, and he’s spent $65,00. That leaves him with $240,000 unspent.


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