Democratic state Rep. Mike Clelland of Lake Mary, the rookie lawmaker who upset former speaker-in-waiting Chris Dorworth last year, raised more money in the second quarter than any incumbent House member in either political party, according to new state records.
Clelland, an attorney and former city of Longwood firefighter, raised just over $34,000 during the quarter, with much of his money coming from firefighters, unions and chiropractic clinics. No other House member seeking re-election raised more, even though Republicans command large majorities in Tallahassee and generally far outraise Democrats.
He?ll likely need every cent. Clelland?s re-election bid promises to be just as challenging as his first run against Dorworth ? which came down to a hand recount. He faces former Rep. Scott Plakon, a Longwood Republican who doesn?t carry the baggage that Dorworth did, in a Seminole County-based House district that was drawn to favor Republican candidates.
The second quarter haul boosted Clelland?s total fundraising this election cycle to more than $56,000, more than any other House Democrat in Florida.
That?s significant because Clelland has openly clashed with the incoming House Democratic Leader, Rep. Darryl Rouson of St. Petersburg, who is in charge of raising money for Democratic state House campaigns. Clelland has accused Rouson of alienating key Democratic constituencies such as public-school teachers and trial lawyers; he has also proven willing to buck Democratic leadership during his first year in office, including supporting a $74 billion state budget assembled by Republican lawmakers.
The friction has prompted speculation that Rouson may not want to spend much money defending one of his highest-profile incumbents, raising pressure on Celland to raise cash himself.
For his part, Plakon raised just under $21,000 during the quarter, with checks from big businesses such as Walt Disney World and NextEra Energy and some legislative lobbying firms. He even received a $250 check from Dorworth, who is now a lobbyist.
Plakon, who owns a publishing business, has raised just over $37,000 total for the race.