Crist raises $4.3 million in second quarter

Florida Gov. Charlie Crist (R) announced Thursday that he raised an astounding $4.3 million for his 2010 Senate campaign in the second quarter.

Word leaked out last week that Crist raised more than $3 million in the quarter, but Thursday’s total blows even that estimate out of the water. The report should help Crist erase any doubt about how much of a favorite he is in the race.

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Crist has polled ahead by 20 or more points in most surveys. The national GOP has endorsed him in hopes of securing the seat of retiring Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) with little national investment.

Crist announced his candidacy about halfway through the second quarter, giving him roughly seven weeks to raised money.

Crist’s total far outpaces any other report from this cycle, including incumbents', and puts him in great position to ward off a primary challenge from former state House Speaker Marco Rubio (R) and a general election challenge likely to come from Rep. Kendrick Meek (D).

Meek raised $1.2 million in the second quarter and has raised a total of about $3 million, while Rubio raised about $350,000 in the second quarter for a total of about $600,000.

“Clearly, Gov. Crist’s record of cutting taxes, fighting for Florida’s students and fighting for the safety, rights and freedoms of all Floridians is resonating with people across the state and around the nation,” said Crist’s campaign co-chariman, former Sen. Connie Mack (R-Fla.).