Danielle Cohen Higgins outspent the $7,500 she raised to retain her seat representing District 8 on the nonpartisan Miami-Dade Commission last month. But with about $443,000 banked so far, she still holds a commanding fundraising lead over her three challengers.
All but $1,500 Cohen Higgins received in July came from the construction and real estate sectors, which have shown increasing interest in the comparatively underdeveloped southeastern portion of the county that includes Palmetto Bay, Cutler Bay and Homestead.
All six donors listed addresses in South Florida, but just one was in Miami-Dade.
The remainder of donations to Cohen Higgins, a lawyer, came from those in her profession, including fellow lawyer Linda Mayol, who listed herself as a “homemaker” and law firm Becker & Poliakoff.
Last month, Cohen Higgins’ fundraising ledger showed $1,000 refunds to powerhouse Florida lobbyist Ronald Book and the Miami chapter of the International Union of Operating Engineers, which gave an identical sum to her campaign in June 2020 and October 2019, respectively.
Almost all of the $9,336 she spent last month went to marketing services, including $4,420 to Brian Goldmeier’s strategic advisory company, BYG Strategies, $4,000 to consultant Christian Ulvert’s Edge Communications and $2,800 to Michael Worley’s digital and direct mail firm MDW Communications.
Though Cohen Higgins is running as an incumbent, her showdown against Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor John DuBois, former Key Biscayne Police Chief Charles Press, and community activist Alicia Arellano marks the first time voters will have the chance to fill in a bubble next to her name.
That’s in part because Cohen Higgins’ predecessor, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, resigned to run for the county mayoralty in 2020 too late for a race for her commission seat to appear on the General Election ballot.
There was still an option to hold a Special Election costing an estimated $1 million.
Born and raised in Miami-Dade, Cohen Higgins had filed to run in May 2019. It marked the first time she’d ever run for political office, and she’d been fundraising and campaigning since. Other candidates in the race included Arellano, DuBois, counselor Leonarda Duran Buike, former Cutler Bay Mayor Peggy Bell, former state Sens. Frank Artiles and Dwight Bullard.
But Miami-Dade Commissioners chose a different, no-cost option: appointing Levine Cava’s replacement, who would serve through 2022. On Dec. 7, Cohen Higgins was the only candidate considered in a 10-1 vote. René García, a former state Senator, was the sole “no” vote. Joe Martinez abstained from voting in protest of the appointment.
Since taking her place on the Miami-Dade dais, Cohen Higgins successfully sponsored several notable items, including directing Levine Cava’s administration to create a cryptocurrency task force, improve access to at-home COVID-19 testing for residents, and develop strategies to attract technology and investment firms to the county.
DuBois, the President and CEO of cloud-based video surveillance company Eyecast, loaned his own campaign $1 million in April 2019. He’s since repaid himself that money and sits on a war chest of about $31,244, having not raised or spent any money since November.
Arellano hasn’t raised any money since October.
Press, who showed interest in being shortlisted for appointment to the District 8 seat last year, has reported no gains or expenditures since launching his campaign in November with nothing in the bank.
This story has been updated to reflect funds from Cohen Higgins’ political committee, Fight for Our Future, and DuBois’ self-repayment.