Vern Buchanan pays down candidate debt ahead of GOP Primary

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U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan reported more than half a million in July in spending as he shores up his re-election. That included spending $375,000 repaying debt the Congressman lent to his own campaign.

Still, the Longboat Key Republican doesn’t appear to be leaving a challenge from conservative activist Martin Hyde completely to chance. He spent $175,167 in the buildup to an Aug. 23 Republican Primary as he runs under new district lines.

Pre-Primary reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show the incumbent raised $217,876 in the period from July 1 to Aug. 3. Over the same period, he spent $550,167, but the bulk was repaying the debt.

That still leaves him with $1,766,050 in cash on hand in the last days of the GOP Primary and as he prepared to likely face Democrat Jan Schneider.

Meanwhile, Hyde in his pre-Primary report listed no additional contributions but did pump $8,854 into his challenge against Buchanan. He closed the reporting period with $6,759 left in cash. There’s also $60,000 in debt still reported for Hyde’s campaign.

Unlike a few previous Democratic opponents, Schneider isn’t nationally backed right now, and reported $41,178 at the close of the second quarter; Schneider faces no Democratic opposition and did not have to file pre-Primary financial information. So, it’s unlikely Buchanan will pump more personal resources into the race as he did in prior cycles.

Buchanan has enjoyed record fundraising success this year, a likely byproduct of becoming the Republican front-runner to chair the House Ways and Means Committee should Republicans retake the majority.

Since moving into that position, Buchanan picked up the endorsement of former President Donald Trump, an asset in any Republican Primary now.

Hyde had hoped for that support and lined up support from Trump associate Roger Stone earlier this year. But Hyde has seen personal scandals largely consume his candidacy. That amplified after bodycam footage was published on Hyde threatening a female police officer’s job during a traffic stop. More recently, an ex-girlfriend called the police and reported concerns about Hyde’s mental health in a recent dispute.

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