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Orlando Sentinel

Diaz Lags Keller's War Chest

By Sean Mussenden

July 19, 2002
Copyright © 2002 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Amid cheers at the state Democratic convention in April, party leaders promised Eddie Diaz financial assistance while hailing him as the party's best hope to unseat U.S. Rep. Ric Keller, R-Orlando.

Today, the talk is still here, but the money is not.

Four months before Election Day, Diaz has only $47,000 in the bank, according to campaign reports released this week. Since announcing his challenge to Keller, the former Orlando police officer has raised only $129,000.

That leaves him ill-prepared to challenge the first-term congressman, who has raised more than $1.1 million and has an $834,000 war chest on hand, political analysts said.

With $40,000, Diaz could not buy even a week of TV ads in the Orlando media market.

"Anyone who has less than $100,000 going into the bank in August is not in particularly good shape," said Amy Walter, who watches House races for the Cook Political Report, a Washington-based nonpartisan newsletter.

That is true in Orlando's District 8, where Keller prevailed in 2000 after one of the most expensive races in the state. He and his Democratic opponent, Linda Chapin, spent a combined $3 million.

At this stage of the race two years ago, Chapin had a half-million dollars in the bank. This year, Diaz faces a more uphill battle, since revisions to the boundaries in Orange and Lake counties have made the district more Republican.

As November approaches, the political parties can be expected to pump money only into races they see as competitive.

Perhaps cognizant of this, Diaz's campaign fired a key consultant a few months ago, said Doug Head, chairman of the Orange County Democratic Party. A new finance director has been brought in.

If Diaz is to catch up, Head said, key Democratic officials will need to play roles in Diaz fund-raisers.

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