In politics, money counts for a lot. And fundraising numbers are usually a signal of how much support a candidate has. The Leon-Gadsden races for House Districts eight and nine, are wide open this year. Both incumbents, state Representatives Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda and Alan Williams, are term limited.
There are nine people are vying for those seats.
House district eight represents part of Gadsden and Leon Counties. And Ramon Alexander is leading the money race there. He’s got more than $150,000 in the bank. Alexander is a former aide to previous Mayor John Marks, a board member of the Council on Community Arts and Big Bend Hospice.
Candidates Diane Williams Cox, Brad Johnson, Clarence Jackson and Richard Burns’ combined war chests still fall short of Alexander’s.
Meanwhile, House District nine features former Representative Lorrane Ausley—who is seeking a return to the seat. She’s raised more than $240,000. According to FloridaPolitics.com, she brought in another $19,000 after fundraising in Tampa. She’s facing a Republican challenger in local attorney Jim Messer, who has raised more than $100,000. Ausley will have to win her Democratic primary but she’s far ahead of challengers Arnita Grice Walker and Joshua Johnson.
Local political consultant Max Herrle says even with all the money floating around the election still comes down to messaging.
“Candidates have to be able to answer why are you running versus the other candidates. They have to be able to touch as many voters as possible. And that’s what money allows you to do. It allows you to run mail. It allows you to run TV. And it really gives you the chance to explain to voters who you are and why you’re running," he said.
Due to changes in the state’s House District map, every seat in the chamber is up for election. Many incumbent lawmakers are running unopposed, but the majority of state Representatives are facing challengers. Rep. Halsey Besears, R-Monticello, is running unopposed. He represents HD 7, which runs south from Calhoun to Liberty and Madison Counties.