Reich Begins Fundraising Early To Challenge McFarland

Todays News

Photo: Fiona McFarland, Derek Reich.

A Sarasota County teacher has once again filed to challenge state Rep. Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota. Derek Reich, the only Democrat filed in House District 73, in his first filing of the cycle reported more than a $31,000 haul.

That’s less than McFarland still. The incumbent has raised well over $44,000 as she seeks a third term in the Florida House, though less than $11,000 of that came in during the just closed quarter.

That’s only looking at candidate accounts. McFarland’s political committee, Friends of Sarasota, raised another $34,500 from July through September, and had nearly $260,000 in cash on hand at the start of October. Meanwhile, Reich’s committee, the Freedom First Fund, hasn’t raised any funding since his 2022 run and has close to nothing in the bank.

But a five-figure haul over three months and a competitive cash pile in the bank shows Reich at least poised to test in McFarland’s nearly 13-percentage-point rout in November was a sign of the state’s midterm mood, with Republicans over-performing from the Panhandle to the Keys, or a sign Sarasota and the state have shifted permanently to the right.

Prominent local Democrats can be found on Reich’s list of donors, including for Sarasota Democratic Party Chair Christine Jennings, one of Florida’s top Democratic fundraisers, as well as current Sarasota Democratic Party Chair Daniel Kuether. The Sarasota Democratic Executive Committee also provided more than 1,100 in in-kind support, primarily opening up access to its voter databases. His fundraising was buoyed by 21 donors who gave the maximum $1,000 allowed by law, but all of those donors came from Sarasota County.

“With just a few phone calls we raised more than $33,000,” Reich said. “95% of that money came from Sarasota County. $0 of Fiona's money came from Sarasota County. That reflects who she really works for. This campaign is just like its candidate: Born, raised and for Sarasota County. And I'm the only candidate in this race that can say that. Tallahassee Republicans are destroying working people's shot at the American Dream, and our fundraising reflects that anger.”

McFarland declined to comment on her fundraising, much of which came from conservative political committees around the state. Lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig gave $1,000, as did the Committee of Florida Agents, an insurance lobby. The Doctors Company Florida PAC also gave the maximum amount.

The district holds potential to be a swing district, though the last time McFarland faced Reich offered little hint. In addition to McFarland’s victory in. the newly redistricted seat, 54.53% of House District 73 voters supported Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s re-election, and 55.81% voted for Gov. Ron DeSantis to win a second term. But in 2020, voters in the district largely split in the presidential election, with 49.7% supporting Republican Donald Trump and 49.34% favoring Democrat Joe Biden. 

 

Photo: Fiona McFarland, Derek Reich.

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