TALLAHASSEE — State lawmakers are back at the Capitol for the first time in months, and some are using the opportunity to engage in a favorite pastime: collecting campaign checks from lobbyists and their clients.
First-time state candidates from Bradenton — Greg Steube, a Republican running for the District 67 seat being vacated by State Rep. Ron Reagan, and Jim Boyd, a Republican running for the District 68 seat now held by departing Rep. Bill Galvano — are taking the opportunity to get to know Tallahassee business groups and make a favorable impression.
Both men have scheduled fundraiser meet-and-greet sessions this week in hopes of attracting supporters and gaining recognition.
It’s the first time since the regular session ended in May that legislators are in Tallahassee for a short week of two-plus days of meetings devoted largely to workshops, not debates on specific legislation.
Legislators are prohibited from soliciting or accepting campaign money during the regular 60-day session each spring, which makes occasional gatherings for committee meetings a fertile time for fundraising. Though lobbyists complain privately of being flooded with faxes and e-mails to attend “receptions,” many keep writing checks.
Steube’s Tuesday evening event at the Governor’s Club was his second since making his January announcement for office.
“It is more to try and get awareness of state groups for the race,” he said.
“It is important for statewide organizations like the Florida Retail Federation and the state Chamber of Commerce to get to know you.”
Since this is the first committee week back since May, “everyone is getting back into the groove, starting to get involved,” Steube said, hopefully turning their attention to open races like his.
Boyd is having his event tonight, which is being cohosted by Galvano and Reagan, who have both endorsed him and two other legislators at the Florida Retail Federation office across from the Capitol.
“I may say a few words, it’s more of a meet and greet,” he said. “You know if you are going to raise money and make friends in Tallahassee, you have to do it when people are there.”
As of June 30, Boyd had raised nearly $47,000 and Steube had raised $108,000. Another campaign filing is due this month.
Reagan, who is leaving office in 2011 because of term limits, said he has been busy helping other people raise funds.
When he was raising his own money, Reagan said he found the committee meeting week fundraisers “informative and instructional.”
“I could even say I’ve met some lifelong friends there,” he said.
Other local candidates like Marie Nisco and Bob McCann, also Republicans running for Reagan’s District 67 seat, are skipping the Tallahassee frenzy.
Nisco, who has not yet reported raising any money, said she has no fundraisers planned and would not accept donations from lobbyists.
Barry Millman, senior campaign adviser for McCann, said the candidate is not holding any Tallahassee events. McCann has collected a little more than $52,600,
“This week we’d prefer to see the legislators legislate,” Millman said Tuesday. “We absolutely don’t believe in doing that (fundraising) this week.”