Politics & Government

Florida GOP Senate candidate Rubio raised $4.5 million last quarter

Ahem. Will the people wringing their hands over Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio's alleged loss of momentum please direct their attention to his latest fundraising report?

Rubio announced Monday that he raised a whopping $4.5 million in the past three months, blowing by the $4.3 million record-setting haul by rival Charlie Crist at the start of the race and, mostly likely, quashing chatter that the former House speaker had fallen off the map as the governor hogged the television cameras covering the Gulf Coast oil spill.

"There's been too much photo-opping and not enough real leadership," Rubio said in a phone call with bloggers and reporters. "The spine and the backbone of our fundraising effort is small donors . . . grass-roots donors who are also voters."

Rubio's new fundraising report is his first since he squeezed Crist out of the Republican primary. Now running as an independent, Crist has not yet released his latest fundraising report, which is due to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday.

State Sen. Mike Fasano and former Sen. Ken Pruitt recently set up a federal political committee to supplement Crist's fundraising. "You have to fight fire with fire," Fasano said.

Among the Democratic contenders, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami raised $1 million in the three-month period, while real estate billionaire Jeff Greene is unreservedly bankrolling his own campaign.

"I will spend whatever it takes to get my message out and be competitive with people like Marco Rubio," Greene said in Tallahassee Monday. "I haven't looked to see where [his] money's coming from but I'm sure there's lots of money from special interests. I'm not taking a penny of special interest money, not for the primary, not for the general election, never. "

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