Published: Jul 17, 2014 2:59 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 17, 2014 5:39 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Money is flowing in record-setting fashion in a race for a Lee county commmission seat. Three republicans want the nomination to face a democrat in November.  TV and radio spots are airing in the high-profile battle. 

"It does take a lot of money to get your message out to the voters these days," says  commissioner Brian Hamman, who's running for re-election in the district four race.

Hamman faces challengers Sawyer Smith and Andy Coy in the August primary.    Between them, they had raised 431-thousand dollars, as of early July.   The total for the race likely will top half a million dollars, and could even approach three-quarters of a million.   It used to be just a few years ago that candidates would raise about 25-thousand to run for commission.  No more.

"I am proud of the support from people in this community, it shows they trust my leadership," says Smith, who had raised about 263-thousand as of early July.   Smith is a partner in a well-known law firm in Fort Myers.    He tells WINK News:   "The difference between me and the other people in the race  is leadership and execution.  My entire careeer, I have been in situations of high stress,  and I have gotten the job done.   I am running for this seat to give back to the community, and provide independent leadership, not to just earn a paycheck."

Smith began airing a TV spot and a radio ad this week.

Hamman says he will start airing ads soon.  "We have 100-thousand dollars in the bank, and yes, you will see us on TV, hear us on radio and we will be in your mailbox," promises Hamman.

He was appointed by Gov. Scott to the commission 9 months ago, and Hamman points to what he calls a major accomplishment:  getting term limits placed on the ballot for voters to decide.

"I feel I have been productive and effective in my time on the commission," says Hamman. 

Andy Coy trails in fund-raising, but he is counting on people remembering his 10 years as a commissioner in the 1990's and early 2000's.   "I have the track record of proven leadership from a time when the county board did many big projects, and had a lot of success, and relatively fe problems.   I believe voters want that experience in their commissioner," says Coy, who is a high school teacher in Lee county. 

The winner of the republican primary will face democrat Deb Jordan in November.  She too is out raising money for her campaign.