In the Republican state Senate primary in Hillsborough County between Rep. Rachel Burgin and former Senate President Tom Lee, a cadre of Tallahassee lobbyists has taken sides. Lee is the candidate who has the support of Senate GOP leaders, but Burgin is also attracting some support from lobbyists. This list is not scientific, but it does provide a snapshot of which lobbyists are where in this contentious and closely watched race (a couple of lobbyists have hedged their bets and given the $500 maximum donation to both candidates).
For Rachel Burgin: Louis Betz, Ron Book, Jack Cory, Cynthia Henderson, Jim Horne, Bob Levy, Raymond Maury, Larry Overton, Dale Patchett, Laura Pierce, Sean Pittman, Steve Shiver, Guy Spearman and Susie Wiles.
Book, Cory, Levy and Spearman are long-time fixtures in the Capitol's lobbying world; Horne is a former state senator from Orange Park; Patchett is a former House Republican leader; Wiles was Gov. Rick Scott's 2010 campaign manager and now works with the (Brian) Ballard Partners firm. Shiver, who worked on Lee's unsuccessful 2006 race for CFO, noted that he is a Lee supporter and wrote a $500 check to Burgin's House campaign before she announced for Senate. (Burgin moved the money to her Senate race, as the law allows).
For Tom Lee: Sebastian Aleksander, Louis Betz, Travis Blanton, Michael Corcoran, Jorge Dominicis, Reggie Garcia, Richard Gentry, Gary Guzzo, Rich Heffley, Chuck Hinson, Nick Iarossi, John Johnson, Ron LaFace Jr., Rhett O'Doski, Larry Overton, Ron Pierce, Robert Reyes, Jim Smith, Frank Tsamoutales and Gerald Wester.
Partners Johnson and Blanton have built one of the Capitol's busiest lobbying practices, as has Corcoran; Dominicis is a top executive of GEO Care, a GEO Group subsidiary; Garcia is a Democrat who does work for the trial bar; Heffley is a lobbyist and Republican strategist; Pierce served as a legislative aide to Lee when he served in the Senate; Smith of Southern Strategy Group is a former attorney general and secretary of state.
Through July 20, Lee held the advantage in hard-dollar fund-raising, with $235,000 compared to Burgin's $128,000. In a growing trend in Florida legislative races, much of the big spending in this race is being done by third-party groups, not the candidates themselves.
-- Steve Bousquet