Benny Valentin Archives - Florida Politics

George Soros spends $1.8 million in Florida local races; backs four winners, two losers

Billionaire New York Democratic campaign financier George Soros‘s interest topped $1.7 million in Central Florida politics and $1.8 million statewide this year as he financed independent campaigns that helped three Democrats win local or state legislative races while three others he backed lost.

Soros’ biggest investment came early, backing Aramis Ayala to the tune of $1.38 million in TV commercials and mailers provided by his Florida Safety & Justice political action committee to fuel her winning long-shot bid upsetting incumbent State Attorney Jeff Ashton in Florida’s 9th Judicial Circuit in August. Ashton was overwhelmed by the campaign, most of it attack ads, and lost.

In October a second PAC, United For Progress weighed in on four other Central Florida races and a Miami race. The PAC financed mailers, polling and other services backing Vic Torres in Senate District 15, Emily Bonilla in Orange County Board of Commissioners District 5, Benny Valentin in Florida House District 42, and Beth Tuura in Florida House District 47.

Torres and Bonilla won, defeating Republicans Peter Vivaldi and incumbent Commissioner Ted Edwards, respectively. Valentin and Tuura lost, to Republican incumbent state Reps. Mike La Rosa and Mike Miller, respectively.

In South Florida the PAC backed Robert Asencio, who defeated Republican David Rivera.

In the cases of Ayala, Bonilla, Valentin and Asencio, Soros’s committees appear to have spent more money on their candidacies than the candidates’ official campaigns could do.

The final numbers are not in – the latest campaign finance reports posted by the Florida Division of Elections go only through Nov. 3.

To date, the numbers show that in Central Florida, United For Progress spent $96,360 directly to back Bonilla; $82,307 to back Tuura; $81, 371 to back Valentin; and $16,306 to back Torres.

In South Florida the PAC spent $84,419 backing Ascencio.

In addition, United For Progress spent $70,000 on polling and other services, with no details available to show whether those services all the candidates’ the PAC was backing, or targeted specific races. All totaled, the PAC spent $433,000 in Florida.

Soros was the sole contributor to both PACS, according to Florida Division of Elections records.

Incumbent Mike La Rosa wins back HD 42 seat from Benny Valentin

In House District 42, Mike La Rosa beat opponent Benny Valentin to win his seat again, with a five-point lead that is impressive considering the massive financial differences between their campaigns.

The race between the two was never financially close, with La Rosa reporting contributions upwards of $200,000 and Valentin only coming up with about $7,000 with $8,000 more in loans and spending about the same amount.

Their values also couldn’t have been more different.

La Rosa spent his campaign touting the virtues of a good education, family values, and fighting terrorism.

Valentin’s campaign’s main issues were education, better health care, and economic reform. He also tackled Homeowner’s Alliance reform, saying it was time to crack down on “mafia style” HOAs that leave people homeless on the streets of his district.

La Rosa, as the incumbent, was able to win the seat.

Mike La Rosa pulls in $21K in June for HD 42 race

Bolstered by a big June 24 fundraiser, Republican state Rep. Mike La Rosa recorded a whopping $21,000 take in the latest campaign finance reporting period, giving him a huge financial advantage over the Democrat running against him in House District 42.

La Rosa’s re-election campaign brought in $18,500 on the last day of the June 1-June 24 reporting period. That tally, plus early June donations from Democratic lobbyist Ron Book, leaves him with $91,430 heading toward the November general election.

Democratic nominee Benny Valentin‘s campaign is essentially broke. The candidate lent his campaign $1,000 and raised just $175 in the June period, while spending $2,620. That left him with $164.


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