Keith Fitzgerald, the Democrat challenging U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, for the local seat in Congress, said Thursday he raised more than $380,000 in contributions during the second quarter of 2012. That brings the total haul since Fitzgerald entered the race in October to about $900,000.
A breakdown of Fitzgerald's finance activity was not yet available on the Federal Elections Commission website. But Fitzgerald said in a news release that the amount raised between April 1 and June 30 was 31 percent more than collected during the first three months of the year. Also, Fitzgerald said he had received contributions from 2,275 donors, 51 percent more than between Jan. 1 and March 31.
Buchanan's latest report also wasn't available on the FEC website.
In his first quarter report, Buchanan reported raising $1.762 million -- including a $250,000 loan from himself to his campaign.
As of March 31, Buchanan said he had almost $1.5 million in cash on hand versus the more than $422,000 reported by Fitzgerald.
Despite that gap, Fitzgerald said the trends show that his campaign is gaining momentum.
"This level of support for our campaign is beyond anything we ever expected," Fitzgerald said in a news release. "When we started, very few gave us a chance against a millionaire Washington incumbent.."
Fitzgerald indicated he believes his campaign has prospered at least in part because Buchanan's legal and political difficulties related to multiple investigations of his business and fund-raising practices and whether he had withheld information from his personal financial disclosure reports. Probes by the FEC and House Ethics Committee closed with no action taken against the congressman, but other investigations are pending.
"Our fundraising is a clear sign that people are tired of years of scandal and the ongoing investigations facing Congressman Vern Buchanan," Fitzgerald said.
Several national political observers have rated the Buchanan-Fitzgerald race as increasingly competitive, while still giving Buchanan the edge.