Gov. Ron DeSantis picked up nearly $900,000 in the second round of weekly distributions of campaign matching funds from the state.
Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial candidates Charlie Crist and Nikki Fried received a combined total of $516,682 in matches to contributions made between July 22 and July 29.
Overall, five statewide candidates have reeled in a little more than $6.76 million in public funds in two distributions, with most of the money going to gubernatorial candidates, according to information posted online Wednesday by the Florida Division of Elections.
Distributions from the long-controversial program will continue through the November general election.
In 2018, the last time the ballot included a gubernatorial race and campaigns for three state Cabinet seats, $9.85 million in matching funds went to 10 candidates. In 2014, six candidates got $4.3 million in matching funds, while 10 candidates received $6.065 million in 2010.
Voters put the matching-funds program in the state Constitution in 1998, with the measure billed as a way to reduce the influence of big-money contributors. In the program, public funds are provided to match contributions of $250 or less from individuals to candidates’ campaign accounts. Matching funds are not available for contributions to political committees or outside of statewide races.
Some lawmakers have unsuccessfully tried to repeal the program in the past. For example, lawmakers placed a repeal proposal on the 2010 ballot, but the measure failed when it gained only 52.5 percent of the vote, short of the required 60 percent for approval.
DeSantis received $889,088 in the latest distribution Friday, bringing his total this year from the program to a little more than $4.24 million. He drew $3.23 million in matching funds when he was elected governor in 2018.
Meanwhile, Crist received $387,901 in the latest distribution, after drawing $964,646 when the first checks went out on July 22. Fried received $128,782 on Friday, after picking up $634,092 in the first round.
Fried got $158,507 from the program during her successful run for state agriculture commissioner in 2018. Crist received a little less than $2.58 million in matching funds when he unsuccessfully ran for governor in 2014.
Republican Attorney General Ashley Moody’s campaign got $5,455 in matching funds Friday, bringing her total to $237,893. Republican state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis received $15,006 on Friday and has received a total of $166,416 through the program.
Other candidates for attorney general and chief financial officer and the candidates for agriculture commissioner have not received matching money.