Naomi Blemur left with under $1,000 to battle Wilton Simpson’s $1.6M


Naomi Blemur secured the Democratic nomination for Agriculture Commissioner, but that hasn’t delivered her an influx of donations. After winning the Democratic nomination for the statewide office, she raised just under $690 in the days after the Primary vote.

As a matter of contrast, Republican nominee Wilton Simpson pulled in $15,300 between Aug. 23 and 26, the deadline for the most recent financial reporting.

The bottom line, Blemur as of Aug. 26 had just $922 left to spend in her campaign account to Simpson’s $1,634,753.

The difference in fundraising success follows a pattern demonstrated since Simpson entered the race last September. But it also shows how a divisive Primary left a nominee with a weak foundation of support as she runs to keep the only statewide office held by Democrats in the blue column. Incumbent Nikki Fried chose to run for Governor instead of another term as Agriculture Commission, but lost the Democratic nomination to former U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist.

Blemur’s donations came in the form of 14 personal checks, all from individuals in Florida or New York.

Excluding the first period after Blemur filed and the week of the Primary when neither she nor Simpson reported any fundraising, the post-primary reporting proved to be the weakest period during Blemur’s candidacy.

In the final weeks of the Democratic Primary, Blemur bled endorsements from South Florida Democratic leaders after previous social media posts surfaced which many considered homophobic and anti-abortion. That prompted an exodus of support. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava and state Sens. Annette Taddeo and Shevrin Jones all withdrew endorsements, but only after vote-by-mail had been underway for weeks.

She still dispatched Democratic opponents Ryan Morales and J.R. Gaillot, securing about 50% of the vote in a three-candidate race.

Simpson, now the Florida Senate President, captured 65% of the vote against James Shaw. Since then, he has seen donations come in from individuals and business groups, including $2,000 from Full Circle Dairy, $1,000 from the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and another $1,000 from Las Olas Capital Advisors. Fireworks executive Charles Anderson gave $3,000 to Simpson. St. Petersburg Attorney James Holden gave $1,000, as did contractor Brad McNeill.

Both Agriculture Commissioner candidates immediately stepped up spending for the General Election cycle. Blemur pumped about $6,558 into disbursements, including spending $1,500 on with Mobile Billboards Miami.

Simpson spent $10,049, almost all of that courtesy an investment in campaign hats bought from Barfield-Sturgill Ventures in Sanford.

Of note, Simpson retains access to much greater resources should he need them. That includes millions in cash on hand with four political committees he controls: Jobs for Florida, Friends of Wilton Simpson, Florida Green PAC and Florida Future.

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