TALLAHASSEE — Three-term Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Friday that he collected almost $4.4 million over the past three months for his nationally watched contest with Republican Rick Scott, whose own first-quarter total doubled that amount.
Nelson raised the most he has ever in a three-quarter span since taking office in 2001, and it left him with $13.7 million cash-on-hand for what is expected to be a free-swinging November battle with Florida's governor.
Nelson drew contributions from more than 18,000 people between April and the end of June, the campaign said.
“Across Florida, people are energized, knocking on doors, making phone calls and contributing to support this campaign because they know Bill Nelson has and always will put Florida first,” said campaign manager Marley Wilkes.
Scott this week reported raising more than $10.7 million since opening his campaign April 9. He said he has more than 11,000 donors, with most contributing less than $500 each.
Full reports for the candidates have not yet been made public by the Federal Election Commission.
Scott, though, has spent more than $10 million on television advertising, while the Nelson campaign said it does not plan on airing TV spots until after Florida’s Aug. 28 primary.
Scott faces longshot Republican rival Rocky De La Fuente in the contest for the Republican nomination, while Nelson is unopposed.
Polls show that despite Scott’s early TV spending, the race remains a toss-up. Spending in the Florida Senate race is expected to top $100 million, making it the priciest race in the nation this year.