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Inside Nelson's first fundraising report: Big names but mostly Florida cash

via @learyreports

There are donations from Elizabeth Warren, Al Gore and Steven Spielberg, but Floridians powered Sen. Bill Nelson’s first fundraising quarter. Nearly 80 percent of his individual contributions came from within the state, a review shows.

Nelson raised more than $2 million for the first three months of the year, a showing that dispels any talk he would not seek a fourth term in 2018. Nelson, 74, has $3.6 million in the bank.

He raised about $1.3 million from individuals, of which 78 percent came from within Florida. The rest of Nelson’s haul came from PACs, including $10,000 from Sen. Warren’s committee.

“Is this why Nelson votes with Warren 92% of the time?” asked the NRSC, which will again seek to cast the Florida Democrat as too liberal for the state, a strategy that has floundered before. “Nearly identical voting records and now $10k from Warren makes it pretty clear that Nelson isn’t the moderate he pretends to be.”

Nelson also got $5,000 from the Moderate Democrats PAC.

Several members of Congress contributed to Nelson, either through their PACs or individually. Charlie Crist personally gave $1,000; Val Demings gave $500. Ted Deutch used his PAC to send Nelson $2,000. Former Rep. Gwen Graham did the same.

Spielberg kicked in $2,700 while his wife, Kate Capshaw, contributed $5,400. Jeffey Katzenberg of Dreamworks also maxed out with $5,400.

There are special interests galore, from Boeing to Wawa. U.S. Sugar, long a benefactor of Nelson. FEC records show five executives contributed a combined $10,500.

Nelson’s report also reveals the outline of his campaign team. On his payroll are familiar names: Pete Mitchell, Dan McLaughlin, who is listed as a “research consultant.”

Diamond Strategies, a St. Petersburg firm run by Christina Diamond, whose husband, Ben, serves in the Legislature, took in $26,000 for fundraising work. Kevin Cate’s shop took in nearly $19,000 for digital advertising.

Nelson spent $12,500 for polling from Ohio-based EMC Research.

— Alex Leary, Tampa Bay Times, with Eli Murray

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