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Soros, Jane Fonda, Lear give big bucks to Democrat Gillum governor bid

With big-name liberals George Soros, Norman Lear and Jane Fonda supplying some major early money, Tallahasee Mayor Andrew Gillum raised $765,000 in his first month as a Democratic candidate for governor, his campaign says.

Rival Democrat Chris King, an Orlando-area businessman who also entered the race last month, raised more than $500,000 from contributors and put in $1 million of his own money, King’s campaign said.

Gillum and King could be joined by several other Democrats in the 2018 race to replace term-limited Republican Gov. Rick Scott in 2018. Former U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine and wealthy trial lawyer John Morgan are also considering Democratic campaigns.

Gillum’s principal campaign committee raised $243,000 and his Forward Florida political committee raised $522,000, a Gillum spokesman said.

Billionaire Soros gave $100,000 last week to Gillum’s Forward Florida committee and son Alex Soros chipped in another $50,000. TV producer and People For The American Way founder Lear gave $50,000 to the committee and actress Fonda contributed $7,000, according to the Forward Florida website.

Tallahassee lawyer/lobbyist Sean Pittman gave a combined $40,000 to Forward Florida through two firms and the committee got $25,000 apiece from Democracy in Color founder Steve Phillips and Palm Beach Gardens businesswoman Tarra Pressey.

Gillum’s campaign says it also has grass roots support, including more than 3,500 online contributions averaging about $60 and donors from 56 of Florida’s 67 counties.

King’s fundraising figure includes $181,000 raised by his campaign itself and $325,000 raised by Rise and Lead, Florida, a committee set up last month.

Neither Gillum nor King is well-known statewide, so raising early money is crucial to build recognition across America’s third most populous state. As a former congresswoman and the daughter of former Florida Gov. Bob Graham, Gwen Graham is expected to have a statewide fundraising base if she runs. Levine and Morgan have considerable personal wealth to tap if they decide to enter the race.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, widely expected to seek the Republican nomination for governor, began March with $6.8 million cash on hand in his Florida Grown political committee. House Speaker Richard Corcoran, R-Land-O’-Lakes, is another potential GOP candidate for governor. Corcoran’s political committee, Florida Roundtable, began March with about $187,000 in available cash.

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