Matt Caldwell caps off 2017 with a six-figure December

Rep. Matt Caldwell announced Thursday that his December finance reports will show another six-figure fundraising month for his Agriculture Commissioner campaign, putting him at $1.56 million raised in 2017.

“We are working hard and our support continues to grow each and every day. We have traveled nearly 41,000 miles across this State since May 1 and, in every small town or big city we visit across the Sunshine State, supporters know how important it is to have a principled conservative serving as Commissioner of Agriculture and on the Florida cabinet,” Caldwell said.

The campaign said it brought in $42,201 for the month with another $59,500 raised through Caldwell’s political committee, Friends of Matt Caldwell, for a combined total of $101,701.

In December, the Lehigh Acres Republican has over $1.07 million on-hand between the two accounts, according to the campaign.

Caldwell is running against Sebring state Sen. Denise Grimsley and former Rep. Baxter Troutman in the Republican Primary to replace termed-out Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam in 2018. Also running is David Walker, the lone Democrat in the race.

At the end of November, Troutman led the pack with nearly $2.5 million on hand in his campaign account and another $51,000 in a political committee. But nearly all of that sum came from his own fortune — Troutman has raised just $63,590 for his campaign account from donors since entering the race in June and his burn rate has been so low that his $2.5 million mic drop is starting to look like it was just for show.

Grimsley, meanwhile, had had $932,077 cash on hand between her campaign account and committee, Saving Florida’s Heartland.

While the raw numbers tentatively give Caldwell the second place spot in cash on hand, the fourth-term lawmaker looks to have built up some momentum heading into 2018.

Since Caldwell’s entry post-Session, he’s been the leading money-raiser in five reporting periods, and one of those two months was September when Caldwell suspended his fundraising efforts in the wake of Hurricane Irma. His Lee County-based HD 79 was among the hardest hit by the storm.