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Elections 2016

Leon County Local Races Generating Millions In Campaign Contributions

Voters cast their ballots (undated)
Sascha Cordner

Tallahassee’s political landscape is changing. It’s an election year, and for the first time in decades, nearly every constitutional office in Leon County is up for grabs. More than $2 million has already flowed into local races and that’s making for a banner cycle when it comes to fundraising. In politics, money can win an election. And there’s a lot of it flowing in Leon County.

“Right now we’ve already raised more money this cycle than every race since 2006," said local political consultant Max Herrle. "So this cycle has raised $2 million, 2006 there was $2.7 million because there were some competitive city and county seats up. I suspect in 2016 we’ll break that record.”

The most expensive races in Leon County are shaping up to be the race for sheriff and school district superintendent. The candidates competing for those jobs have raised more than a million dollars so far. State redistricting, coupled with the retirements of longtime local officials in various offices has set off a scramble for seats.

“Candidates have to be able to answer why are you running better than the other candidates? And they have to be able to touch as many voters as possible," said Herrle. "That’s what money allows you to do. It allows you to run mail, TV and it gives you the chance to explain to voters who you are, and why you’re running.”

The cash flowing into local races doesn’t mean individual candidates are raising more money, but that there are more candidates. So far Leon County Sheriff Mike Wood is winning the fundraising race with more than $283,000  in the bank, while school superintendent Jackie Pons has $244,000.

But it will still be up to voters to decide who they want to represent them. Primaries are set for August with runoffs, if needed, in November.