Hialeah Republican Rep. Manny Diaz has been piling on the cash for his Senate District 36 campaign for the better part of two years, but Democratic nominee David Perez has chipped away at that lead in the sprint toward Election Day.
Campaign finance reports for the first half of September show Perez brought in $19,185 in hard money with an additional $50,000 heading to his affiliated political committee, Floridians for Change. That performance laps Diaz’s efforts and then some.
The third-term lawmaker added $12,600 in campaign funds between Sept. 1 and Sept. 14, with his Better Florida Education committee receiving $17,000 during the same stretch.
Perez’s early September spending clocked in at more than $100,000, including about $47,000 in ad buys and another $45,000 in committee cash funneled to the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, a Florida Democratic Party affiliated committee that supports state Senate campaigns.
Diaz showed half as much spending in his reports, with a $20,000 social media ad buy via Campaign Precision topping the list of outgoing funds.
To date, Diaz has a massive advantage in both overall fundraising and cash on hand. He has raised $500,000 in campaign funds and has $192,000 banked while his committee, which predates his Senate bid, had $84,000 at the ready on Sept. 14.
Perez, meanwhile, has raised a combined $356,000 and had about $105,000 left to spend through the same date.
SD 36 is currently held by term-limited Republican Sen. Rene Garcia, who has endorsed Diaz as his successor. The district covers an inland portion of northern Miami-Dade County including Miami Lakes, Hialeah, and Miami Springs.
SD 36 is one of only two Republican-held seats being targeted by Florida Democrats this cycle that voted for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton two years ago, and it did so by a much wider margin than in Tampa-based SD 18, where House Minority Leader Janet Cruz is challenging Republican Sen. Dana Young.
Clinton won the majority Hispanic district by 14 points, though Garcia won re-election over underfunded Democratic challenger Anabella Grohoski Peralta 55-45 percent.