U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, began 2012 with almost $1 million more in the bank than his presumptive Democratic challenger, former state Rep. Keith Fitzgerald, according to campaign finance records newly filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
In Congress since 2007, Buchanan bolstered his campaign by collecting almost $1.28 million in contributions in 2011, including almost $510,000 from individuals and more than $404,000 from political action committees, according to his filing.
Of the more than $1.1 million his campaign spent last year, more than $643,000 was paid to Buchanan -- who is one of the wealthiest members of Congress -- to pay back loans he had made to finance previous campaigns, according to the report.
As of Dec. 31, Buchanan reported having $1,122,789 cash on hand.
In his first filing since announcing his bid in October, Fitzgerald reported having $194,696 cash on hand. He reported contributions totaling $224,266, including almost $215,000 from individuals and $9,000 from political action committees.
Fitzgerald spent almost $30,000 in the first three months of his campaign.
Fitzgerald starts out with a large financial disadvantage in his bid to unseat Buchanan. However, national Democrats were impressed enough by his showing to commit to Fitzgerald fundraising and other support.
To review the reports in detail, visit FEC.gov.