The dust has settled on a frenzied month for political fundraising in Miami, during which candidates running for three commission races, the mayor’s office and a seat yet-to-be-determined raised more than a half-million dollars combined.
New political committees are getting involved, competing candidates are neck-and-neck in District 3, and incumbents without opponents — or even declared campaigns — are raising large sums.
The election is in Nov. 7.
Here’s what we learned in the month of March:
▪ Francis Suarez is going to keep raising money even if nobody mounts a credible threat to his campaign.
Suarez, the only mayoral candidate right now with an active campaign (Robert Ingram Burke and Christian Canache aren’t raising or spending money), topped $2 million in February between his official account and political committee, Miami’s Future. In March, the city’s District 4 commissioner added another $200,000 thanks to some large contributions, mostly from political regulars.
Affiliates and executives of residential developer Related Group gave a combined $14,000. The Rok family’s Bird Bowl and Hialeah Square gave a combined $10,000, an amount matched by Turnberry’s Oleta Partners, Tate Management’s Ken Jam Kendall, the Llorente & Heckler law firm, and companies tied to Chateau Group’s Manuel Grosskopf.
▪ Suarez also received $10,000 from political committee Progress Miami, which gave to multiple Miami campaigns this month, and $5,000 from Floridians United for Our Children’s Future, a PAC tied to the Associated Industries of Florida and largely funded by big sugar, Florida Power & Light, and Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.
Progress Miami, which is chaired by Christopher T. Harris, brought in all its money in 2014 and 2015, primarily from real estate interests such as Pointe Group, Corigin Holdings and Midtown Opportunities.
▪ Suarez isn’t raising money on his own. His campaign has enlisted Brian Goldmeier, the rainmaker who helped county Mayor Carlos Gimenez raise millions for his reelection campaign last year, and paid Goldmeier’s BYG Strategies just shy of $100,000 for his efforts.
▪ Term-limited Commissioner Frank Carollo doesn’t officially have a campaign to fund, though he may still be thinking about challenging Suarez. Regardless, a new political committee identified by Related Group as an account established to support the District 3 commissioner, United for Good Government, brought in $107,000.
The biggest contribution ($15,000) came from GM&P Consulting and Glazing. Edgewater Management Services, Crystal Clear Holdings, and Brickell Motors donated $10,000 each. Morrison Brown Argiz & Farra, the accounting firm where Carollo is employed as a CPA, also gave $10,000.
▪ The race for Carollo’s District 3 commission seat is a crowded field that includes Alex Dominguez, Olidia “Lee” Hernandez, Alfonso Leon, Miguel Solimon, Daniel Suarez and José Suárez. But when it comes to raising money, only two candidates have gotten traction: Zoraida Barreiro and Joe Carollo.
Barreiro, the wife of county Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, raised about $55,000 last month, bringing her total to about $125,000. Her March donors included Turnberry Development ($5,000), attorney and lobbyist Jorge Luis Lopez’s New Leadership Network political committee ($2,000) and Progress Miami.
Her biggest boost came from Floridians for a Stronger Democracy, a political committee funded by big sugar, FPL and the Miami Dolphins. The committee gave $10,000 to Barreiro’s electioneering communications organization, known as Government with Transparency.
Carollo, meanwhile, raised $82,000 last month, bringing his total to $147,000. Donors include affiliates of Treo Group ($10,000) and several bundled $5,000 contributors (restaurateur Steven Perricone, tech guru Manny Medina, and developer Craig Robins.)
Carollo says he doesn’t have a political committee. Yet.
▪ Keon Hardemon, the incumbent District 5 commissioner, is raising money again after a short lull. A $12,500 haul in March brings his total campaign account just shy of $200,000, a decent defense in case anyone chooses to challenge him before the September qualifying deadline to make the ballot for Miami municipal office.
His donors included companies tied to Shahab Karmely ($3,000), Spectrum Capital Assets and Orange Barrel Media out of Ohio.
▪ Finally, in the race that isn’t yet officially a 2017 race, Ralph Rosado continues to raise money in his bid to take the seat that Francis Suarez will presumably vacate this fall to run for mayor. But perennial candidate Manolo Reyes is beginning to get a little traction.
Reyes, who’d lain low for years, has raised about $60,000 since re-launching his campaign in January. State records suggest he’s also opened a political committee called Restore Miami.
Rosado, meanwhile, raised another $65,000 last month. His donors include developers Flasgstone Island Gardens, Treo Group, Jeff Berkowitz and Adler Group.
Both men opened campaign accounts in 2013 when Francis Suarez announced a run for mayor. When Suarez pulled out of the race and decided to keep his seat, they kept their campaign accounts open.