South Florida health care executive Mike Fernandez gave an additional $125,000 in late September to All Voters Vote, a political committee pursuing profound changes to Florida’s primary election system.
The six-figure contribution was gifted on Sept. 30 and compliments a $79,154 contribution he made in early June to the group, campaign finance records show.
Notably, Fernandez has spent millions since last year in support of Amendment 3.
Florida is one of only nine states with a closed primary, meaning primary contests are limited to voters who are registered with a respective party.
If passed in November, the constitutional amendment would allow registered voters beginning in 2024 to cast a ballot in primary elections for the Legislature, Governor, and Cabinet regardless of party affiliation. It would also create a single primary race for each office. Candidates from all parties would appear on the same ballot for an office and only the top two candidates would advance to the General Election.
While proponents of the amendment suggest it will help relieve hyper-partisanship and increase voter participation, both Republicans and Democrats have spoken out against the amendment.
Last week, Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo and Florida Republican Party Chair Joe Gruters joined forces to oppose the amendment at the Florida Tiger Bay Club 2020 Election Series.
There, Gruters criticized Fernandez and the proposed “top two” primary system.
“The group that pushed this is primarily funded by a single billionaire who obviously was upset at the system and is trying to change the process,” Gruters said. “If this was a good system, he should be able to take it to the Legislature and pass it. He was not able to.”
Gruters, who doubles as a state Senator representing Sarasota, continued: “This is the problem with the constitutional amendment system. You can come in here, drop ship with a ton of money to have people stand out front of Publix and get these petitions signed and have these amendments put on the ballot.”
All Voters Vote Chairman Glenn Burhans disputed Gruters’ remarks, claiming the amendment is supported by both Fernandez and “concerned citizens.”
“I note that Chairman Gruters and his political party members had no problem lining up to take Mr. Fernandez’s money when it suited their purposes,” Burhans said. “But now that Mr. Fernandez wants to fix a broken system, all a sudden the parties are against letting three and a half million voters vote. I think it’s shameful.”
The All Voters Vote initiative has $138,789 left in the bank with less than 22 days before Election Day.