TALLAHASSEE, Fla., July 1 (UPI) -- Running as the White House's choice as Florida's next senator, former cabinet member Mel Martinez has taken the fundraising lead among 12 candidates.
The Miami Herald reported Thursday that the former housing secretary had collected $1.75 million in the last three months.
Figures released by the Martinez campaign showed that more than 50 of his contributors were from President Bush's chief contributors, known as "Pioneers" and "Rangers."
Second among the fundraisers was Democratic candidate Betty Castor, former state education commissioner and president of the University of Florida. She has collected $1.4 in preparation for the primary elections Aug. 31.
Martinez' chief challenger in the GOP race is former Rep. Bill McCollum, who has collected about $1 million. His campaign said its most recent poll shows McCollum with a lead of nearly 13 percentage points.
Second place among the Democrats is Miami-Dade County Mayor Alex Penelas with $700,000 over the three months. Rep. Peter Deutsch is third with $500,000 but his campaign has a reported $4.4 million in the bank.