Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade mayor’s ad and mailer tab close to $2 million

Mayor Carlos Gimenez, left, and Raquel Regalado, far right, debate live for the Miami-Dade mayor’s race, moderated by the hosts between them: Michael Putney and Glenna Milber. The debate aired on "This Week in South Florida" at Channel 10 (WPLG) studios in Hollywood on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016.
Mayor Carlos Gimenez, left, and Raquel Regalado, far right, debate live for the Miami-Dade mayor’s race, moderated by the hosts between them: Michael Putney and Glenna Milber. The debate aired on "This Week in South Florida" at Channel 10 (WPLG) studios in Hollywood on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2016. mocner@miamiherald.com

Incumbent Carlos Gimenez’s reelection effort has spent at least $1.8 million on ads and mailers in the run-up to Tuesday’s Miami-Dade mayoral election, dwarfing rival Raquel Regalado, according to filings released Friday.

Gimenez’s campaign and political committee paid $1.2 million to media-buyer G Group of Miami and another $660,000 to a Georgia mail house responsible for sending the kind of glossy, jumbo postcards that arrive daily in some mailboxes during election season. The numbers outlined in the latest round of campaign-finance disclosures continue to show Gimenez dwarfing Regalado, a two-term school board member, when it comes to fund-raising and spending.

Regalado said her main ad buyer is Miami’s G & R Strategies, which has received about $87,000 for consulting and ad spending. Gravitas Campaigns, which handles mailers for Regalado, collected about $84,000. Financial reports, covering from 2015 on, show another $100,000 spent on various advertising efforts, including social media.

The figures likely don’t reflect the entire ad spending by either side. Not all ad spending is detailed in the reports filed regularly with Miami-Dade, and outside groups are also funding campaign messaging for each side.

But the reports issued Friday amplify the stark financial divide between Gimenez, Regalado, and his other five rivals in the run-up to Tuesday’s primary. Gimenez, in office since 2011, has raised $4.5 million for his reelection effort. Regalado, the daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado, has raised $983,000.

Raquel Regalado speaks to the Miami Herald Editorial Board Aug. 10, 2016.

The non-partisan primary will end the race if one candidate takes more than 50 percent of the vote. If not, it heads for a November run-off between the top two candidates. Regalado hopes to keep Gimenez below the 50-percent threshhold, and then overtake him in the dash to November. Gimenez aides say they’re confident the race will end Tuesday. Both sides would need an infusion of cash should they find themselves in an ongoing election Wednesday morning.

The Gimenez side has spent about $4 million, leaving another $450,000 left to spend. Regalado has spent roughly $910,000 since the start of 2015. Thanks to surplus cash raised before 2015 by the political committee she and her father use, Serving Miamians, she has about $112,000 left to spend.

A third candidate, Alfred Santamaria, trails Regalado but still posted significant dollars for a first-time candidate. The one-time congressional aide raised about $410,000 and has spent $360,000.

On the donor side, the top contributor in the race remains Duty Free Americas, a major retailer at the county-owned Miami International Airport. The company and its various holdings donated about $150,000 to Gimenez, according to a Miami Herald database of more than 18,000 contributions to county races since 2011. Turnberry, also an Gimenez donor, is a close second with about $142,000 in donations.

Regalado’s top donor is the billionaire auto magnate Norman Braman, who has a Miami dealership and has given about $140,000 to her election effort. He takes the No. 3 slot in the Herald’s list of top mayoral donors.

Both Regalado and Gimenez use professional fund-raisers. Regalado’s fund-raiser, Esther Nuhfer, has been paid about $100,000. Brian Goldmeier, Gimenez’s fund-raiser, has earned roughly $415,000.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez speaks to the Miami Herald Editorial Board Aug. 10, 2016.

Regalado’s younger brother, Jose, who owns a video-production company, has earned about $82,000 for work on social media and campaign videos. Former Miami mayor Joe Carollo’s firm has earned about $115,000 for consulting work for Gimenez.

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