St. Petersburg Democrat Carrie Pilon has ended her challenge to state Sen. Jeff Brandes, due to unexpected health issues involving a member of her family. “These health issues, unfortunately, have made it impossible for me to continue forward and give the campaign the attention that it deserves, while also being able to provide the support my family needs,” Pilon wrote on her Facebook page.
Pilon’s decision was first reported by Florida Politics. The Pinellas County Democratic Executive Committee will be able to name a replacement candidate once Pilon’s formal withdrawal notice is received by the state Division of Elections. Pilon, who had raised $87,843 and had nearly $80,000 still in her treasury as of June 22, was the only challenger who qualified to take on Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican who has been heavily involved in transportation and criminal-justice issues.
Brandes will hold a considerable fundraising advantage against any replacement candidate in Senate District 24, Brandes’ campaign account held $467,264 as of June 22 while a political committee connected to him, Liberty Florida, was sitting on $356,235 as of June 29. The committee posted $103,500 in contributions between June 23 and June 29, including $14,000 from insurance interests, $15,000 from Miami-based Florida Cargo Fresh, and $10,000 from U.S. Sugar. Brandes also received $15,000 from Working Together For Florida, a political committee tied to Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, and $10,000 from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a PAC linked to the business group Associated Industries of Florida.