It’s early, but two candidates in line for a pending special election are shaping up for a fundraising showdown.

House District 7 Republican candidate Mike Watkins had $143,000 ready to deploy at the end of 2018, according to campaign finance reports recently posted to the Division of Elections website. Watkins filed nearly a year ago to run for the seat in 2020. He amassed more than $23,000 in contributions during the month of December. 

Jason Shoaf, another Republican hopeful, boasted just more than $50,000 through the same period, though unlike Watkins his campaign fund hit that target thanks to $30,000 in candidate loans. He wins December when it comes to total receipts, but it’s Watkins who wears the crown in true fundraising.

Shoaf has had less time to raise money for the reporting period, however, filing to run for the seat shortly before incumbent Gov. Ron DeSantis tapped incumbent state Rep. Halsey Beshears to lead the Department of Business and Professional Regulation — only weeks from the year’s end.

Beshears, a Monticello Republican, vacated his seat in the House on Friday.

Once that happens, DeSantis can schedule a special election for the district, which stretches across 10 Big Bend and

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