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Diaz Trails Keller In Race For Dollars
By Mark Schlueb
September 16, 2002
The congressional campaign of former police officer Eddie Diaz seems to be running on fumes as he enters the critical final weeks before Election Day.
With just seven weeks left before voters in Florida's 8th Congressional District go to the polls, Diaz's most recent fund-raising reports show less than $11,000 left in his campaign coffers.
His opponent, first-term Republican Ric Keller, had more than $800,000 at his disposal as of Aug. 29, when he filed his most recent report with the Federal Elections Commission. On Thursday, Keller put some of that money to work, launching a costly series of television ads on CNN, MSNBC, Fox News and other cable stations.
Joe Johnson, Diaz's campaign manager, said the Democrat has raised more money since the filing deadline, contributions that are not yet noted on FEC reports.
"The reports are just a snapshot in time," Johnson said. "The campaign is in good shape; it's on track to go in the direction we want it to go."
Diaz has raised $171,000 since he began fund-raising last November.
But most of the money has been spent on things that would-be voters would never see: political and fund-raising consultants, workers in his campaign office, rent and office supplies.
Records show Diaz has paid $45,450 for political consulting and polling during the past four months. Most of it has gone to a consulting firm owned by Diaz's campaign manager.
Another $44,838 has gone toward office supplies, copiers, computers and phone bills.
Diaz initially hired a West Virginia consulting firm, Cunningham, Harris & Associates, to raise money for his campaign. The firm was paid $18,021 for its services before Diaz switched to another fund-raising point-person.
Little of the money has gone to contact voters. Diaz hasn't sent any letters or postcards to district voters asking for their support at the polls and hasn't placed any ads on radio or television.
Keller started raising money for his re-election campaign just weeks after he won his first term two years ago. Though he has outdone Diaz in soliciting campaign contributions by a wide margin, he hasn't slowed down. Keller had two fund-raisers within the past few days, one in Washington and one in Orlando.
"Even though the political pundits and Democratic donors have written my opponent off, I'm still treating it like a 50-50 race," Keller said. "The worst thing someone can do is be complacent."
Johnson said Keller's big pot of money doesn't concern the Diaz campaign, nor does the incumbent's series of TV ads.
"Our poll numbers show that Ric Keller is vulnerable," Johnson said.
"If you're the incumbent, there's no way you would run television spots this early if you didn't think you were vulnerable."