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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Marion political incumbents outraising challengers 16 to 1 in campaign funds

Four Marion County incumbents running for reelection this fall have raised nearly $300,000 in political campaign funds, which equates to more than 16 times what their challengers have raised.

According to campaign finance records from the Marion County Supervisor of Elections, the three incumbents running for Marion County Board of County Commission, as well as Sheriff Billy Woods, have all raised a combined $297,138 dating back to last year.

Woods has raised more than all other candidates running for county offices, having generated $129,315 since his campaign began last year. During the first quarter of this year, Woods raised at least $81,555 from over 350 individual donors, according to county records.

Woods’ challenger, Milton Simmons Busby, Jr., has raised approximately $15,775.40. That represents about an eighth of what Woods has raised.

Craig Curry, who is seeking reelection to represent District 1 on the MCBCC, has raised $69,951 in campaign funds dating back to last year. Although Curry received 93 donations, many of those donations came from different businesses associated with the same owners.

Among the list of contributors to Curry’s campaign were local developers, construction companies, attorneys, and other businesses. Notable contributors include the Hilton Garden Inn, Cone Distributing, West Oak Developers, Kenneth Ausley of Ausley Construction, Foxfire Realty, and Gator Joe’s, among others.

Curry’s challenger, Sarah Almeida Dennis, has raised $1,520.70 in campaign funds. Dennis recently raised enough to pay her qualifying fee, according to her website.

Michelle Stone, who chairs the MCBCC and represents District 5, has raised $65,502 in campaign contributions. According to county records, Stone raised over $50,000 during 2023, and just over $8,400 during the first quarter of 2024.

Although there were 79 contributions made to Stone’s campaign, similar to Curry, many of the contributions were from different businesses owned by one individual. Among the most notable contributors were several businesses located in The Villages, as well as a collection of local developers, construction companies, and even other politicians. That includes Thad Boyd, the CEO of Boyd Real Estate, Mayor Ben Marciano, and State Attorney William Gladson.

According to county records, three individuals previously filed to run against Stone. All three candidates have since withdrawn from the race. In total, those three individuals raised approximately $255.

Matt McClain has raised $32,370 in his campaign for reelection to the District 3 seat on the MCBCC. McClain, whose father Stan represents District 27 in the Florida House of Representatives, raised all of his campaign funds from 36 contributions during the first quarter of this year.

Notable donors include Ro-Mac Lumber and Florida State Senator Dennis K. Baxley, as well as several other donors that also made contributions to Stone and/or Curry, including Cone Distributing, West Oak Developers, and Boyd.