Sanjay Patel just posted the best quarterly fundraising report by a Democrat running for Florida’s 8th Congressional District this century, nearly matching incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Posey.
Patel, who filed for the race in late January, showed $91,111 raised and $9,262 spent in his inaugural report, leaving him with $81,642 in the bank at the end of the quarter.
The Brevard County Democrat also said his campaign has gathered 9,215 petition signatures to get his name on the ballot – well over the 5,289 required to avoid a qualifying fee. The Patel campaign used those numbers to jab at Posey, who as of Monday had collected 4,868 verified petitions.
“We are building a grassroots movement of voters and volunteers who support healthcare as a human right, decent wages for hardworking families, quality public education for all, and protection of our land, air and water,” Patel said in a press release.
“I am humbled, honored and incredibly grateful to those who signed our petitions, and to the tireless team who volunteered countless hours to make sure our campaign will appear on the ballot.”
Patel’s fundraising update also served to announce a half-dozen “listening events” across the district, with the first slated for Sunday night in Indian Harbor Beach.
“As I’m meeting with people across the district, I’m hearing that voters feel their voices are being ignored by their elected officials. They want a representative who will really listen to their issues and ideas, and I am committed to meeting with our community face-to-face, both as candidate and as congressman,” Patel said in announcing the events.
Patel’s campaign operation after 10 weeks in the race is likely to turn a couple heads in the district, where Posey hasn’t faced a serious Election Day challenge in any of his five elections – by far his closest race was his first in 2008, which saw him win a three-way race by 11 points.
Still, Posey has a substantial money lead as he goes for term six in the Space Coast district.
Posey added $103,786 in individual contributions during the first quarter, an improvement over his fourth quarter haul, bringing his total fundraising up to $481,203, though with the leftover cash from his 2016 bid he has nearly $640,000 banked.
CD 8 covers the whole of Brevard and Indian River counties as well as a chunk of eastern Orange County. It voted plus-21 for Donald Trump in the 2016 election, and is currently listed as “safely Republican” by University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato‘s “Crystal Ball”