Let it flow: Millions tallied for Florida governor's race, statewide pot legalization initiative

Various campaigns are spending big to win the governor's race and get a marijuana measure on the ballot.

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay

Gov. Ron DeSantis collected about $1.95 million for his political committee and campaign from Aug. 20 through Aug. 26, while Democratic gubernatorial nominee Charlie Crist pulled in nearly $1.79 million, according to finance reports posted Friday on the state Division of Elections website.

The reports offer the first glimpses of fundraising and spending after Crist won the Aug. 23 Democratic gubernatorial primary and set up the Nov. 8 general-election race with DeSantis.

The Friends of Ron DeSantis committee raised $1.138 million from Aug. 20 through Aug. 26, while it spent $3.36 million. It had about $120.3 million in cash on hand as of Aug. 26.

Much of the spending during the period — $3 million — involved funneling money to the Republican Party of Florida, according to the committee’s finance report. Meanwhile, DeSantis raised almost $815,000 for his separate campaign account, while spending $2.64 million.

The campaign account had about $8.27 million on hand as of Aug. 26. Crist’s Friends of Charlie Crist committee raised nearly $774,000 during the period, while spending about $77,000. It had about $1.36 million on hand as of Aug. 26.

Crist also collected $1.015 million for his campaign account, while spending more than $107,000. The campaign account had about $1.82 million on hand.

Panel behind recreational use of marijuana amendment spends big

Gearing up to try to get on the 2024 ballot, a political committee proposing a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Florida paid $1.5 million last week to a signature-gathering firm, according to a newly filed finance report.

The Smart & Safe Florida committee paid the money to Vanguard Field Strategies, with the report saying the payment was for “signatures/petitions.”

The committee will have to submit 891,589 valid petition signatures to put the measure on the 2024 ballot. The medical-marijuana company Trulieve contributed $5 million last month to help launch the initiative.

The “Adult Personal Use of Marijuana” proposal would allow people 21 or older “to possess, purchase, or use marijuana products and marijuana accessories for non-medical personal consumption by smoking, ingestion, or otherwise.”

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