With candidates setting a record this year for pulling in matching funds, Florida taxpayers contributed $4.2 million to the winning campaigns for governor and three Cabinet seats, according to the final totals for the 2018 elections.

Another $5.65 million in tax dollars went to the campaigns of six unsuccessful statewide candidates, according to numbers posted Friday by the Florida Division of Elections.

Overall matching funds totaled $9,852,606, more than double the $4.34 million from the last midterm election in 2014 and easily topping the nearly $6.07 million in 2010.

Disparaged by critics as welfare for politicians, the program was approved by voters in 1998 as part of a constitutional amendment proposed by the Constitution Revision Commission. It provides matches for individual contributions of $250 or less to statewide candidates’ campaigns.

Republican Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis was the biggest recipient of the funds this year, receiving nearly $3.23 million, including $557,554 that rolled in after voters cast their ballots but as campaign finance reports continued to be submitted and individual contributions verified.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum received $2.62 million from the program, including $254,381 after the Nov. 6 election.

DeSantis and Gillum, whose campaigns and political committees collectively spent more than

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