Long-shot Miami politician Ken Russell debuts in U.S. Senate race with $441K raised

Can a woodworker and former yo-yo champion squeak by national politicians?

Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell has a long way to go in the 2022 U.S. Senate race before he matches the millions the race’s heavyweights have raised, but his second-quarter fundraising represented a strong start.

Russell, who is term-limited on the Miami City Commission in 2023, raised $441,181 between April 1 and June 30. The campaign has about $345,000 cash on hand for Russell’s first bid for statewide election, according to his campaign’s first report. Russell, a woodworker and former yo-yo champion, is an underdog in his bid facing U.S. Rep. Val Demings in the Democratic Primary Election. Her campaign has nearly $3.1 million on hand. She vaulted into the national spotlight as a U.S. House impeachment manager during President Donald Trump‘s first trial in the Senate.

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign has $6.3 million in cash on hand.

All but a handful of Russell’s 209 donations came from in-state individuals or entities and the majority of Russell’s donors live in the Miami area. Two political action committees gave him $5,000 each: The Washington D.C.-based International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Voluntary Fund and the Miami Association Firefighters Local 587.

Russell’s campaign report shows attorneys, real estate developers and other professionals among his donors. Matthew Allen, the chief operations officer of The Related Group, South Florida’s biggest condo developer, gave $2,900. Steven Witkoff, founder and CEO of the Witkoff Group, a real estate investment firm that has the Woolworth building in its portfolio, gave $2,900. Neil Shah, president of Hersha Hotels and Resorts, gave $2,900. Edgewater Mayor Michael Thomas, who owns property in Miami, contributed $1,000. And Jimmy Lewis, a Hawaiian surfboard maker, gave Russell’s campaign $1,000.

Russell’s campaign spent $95,000, including $9,750 for media consulting with Palmetto Bay-based Byrnes Communications. The campaign reports $45,000 in debts for media production, finance consulting and field consulting.

Besides Demings, Russell will have to win against nine other Democrats to face Rubio, a Miami son. Still, none of those other nine candidates have come close to matching Russell’s fundraising prowess. Allen Ellison’s campaign has gotten $133,336 in donations so far; William Sanchez’s has collected $107,000.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn