Rubio raises more, but Crist tops polls in Florida Senate race

Holly Bailey
The Upshot

Charlie Crist may lead the polls in Florida’s open Senate race, but he’s trailing opponent Marco Rubio big time when it comes to campaign fundraising.

New campaign reports show that Crist took in just $1.8 million last quarter, compared with Rubio’s record-breaking $4.5 million take — the most ever raised in a single quarter by a Florida candidate for U.S. Senate.

Crist’s total is actually slightly more than he raised when he was still a Republican. In the first three months of the year, Crist raised $1.1 million as he battled Rubio for the GOP nomination. The Florida governor quit the party in May to run for Senate as an independent.

Crist’s campaign says he has roughly $8.2 million in the bank — almost twice as much as Rubio, who reported $4.4 million. Democrat Kendrick Meek raised roughly $1 million and has $4 million cash on hand, according to his campaign. Meek’s primary challenger, financier Jeff Greene, took almost no contributions but spent nearly $6 million of his own cash on the race.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll out this week has Crist still leading the race, with 35 percent of likely voters. Rubio is at 28 percent, while Meek trails at 17 percent. The poll confirms what previous surveys have found: Crist is pulling away significant Democratic support from Meek.

We're still analyzing exactly who gave to the candidates and where the money was spent. But one major point of interest is whether Crist is getting checks from Democrats, whom he has been courting for campaign support in recent weeks.

Over the weekend, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine shot down speculation that the party would effectively stand down in favor of Crist, a close ally of President Obama who has hinted he might caucus with Democrats if elected. The governor recently hired a firm employing Anita Dunn, a longtime Obama adviser, leading to speculation that the White House was unofficially backing Crist.

But Kaine, in an interview with Florida TV station Bay News 9, rejected that scenario. “We put our support behind the Democratic nominee, and that’s Kendrick Meek,” he said.