Primary battle for Sarasota County seat in Florida Senate already over $1 million

The wide-open battle to represent Sarasota County in the Florida Senate is already certain to cost over $1 million - and that is just for the Aug. 30 primary.

The five Republicans in the battle to replace State Sen. Nancy Detert, R-Venice, have combined to amass more than $1.2 million in their battle to represent a district that includes all of Sarasota County plus a portion of Charlotte County.

The financial edge, according to the latest campaign finance reports released earlier this month, so far goes to former state Rep. Doug Holder, a Sarasota Republican who has raised $232,000 in his main campaign account, but also socked away $248,000 in a political action committee he controls. After him, State Rep. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota, has amassed $283,000 in his main campaign account and $130,000 in a political action committee poised to help his effort.

Longtime Sarasota County commissioner Nora Patterson is next with almost $180,000 raised in her campaign account, while state Rep. Ray Pilon, R-Sarasota, has $122,000. Sarasota businessman Rick Levine has raise just over $3,000.

The $1.2 million primary for District 23 puts it in select company. Only three other state senate seats out of 40 have seen more than $1 million raised through a combination of campaign accounts and political committees just for a primary.

Two of those other races are Republican contests. In District 28, which includes mostly Collier County, state Reps Matt Hudson and Kathleen Passidomo have combined to raised more than $1.5 million. In Brevard County, in District 17, state Reps Ritch Workman and Debbie Mayfield and Republican activistMichael Thomas have also surpassed $1.1 million.

On the Democratic side, the only primary with more than $1 million is in Senate District 34 in Broward County. Gary Farmer, Jim Waldman and Gwendolen Clarke-Reed have combined to raise just over $1 million.

All that money and the winner of each of the seats will make $29,697 a year.

All four districts have something else in common. In each the party registration advantage is so lopsided that the winner of the primary will be heavily favored to win the seat in November in the general election.