Republican Daniel Sotelo added about $15,500 in August toward his bid for the Florida House District 118 seat Republican Rep. Anthony Rodriguez plans to vacate for a Miami-Dade Commission seat next year.
Last month’s haul, comprised of 16 individual donations of $1,000 or less, edged Sotelo’s campaign past the $125,000 mark in a race where he so far is unopposed.
As has been the case before, contributions to his campaign last month came exclusively from a variety of local small businesses and their proprietors. In August, they included companies offering impact window, liquor, furniture, carpentry, auto mechanic, mortgage and clothing services. Past donors included many from the construction sector or related industries, including HVAC, electrical and landscaping businesses.
Nearly half the funds Sotelo holds are self-given. He loaned himself $50,000 in June and, as Florida Politics previously reported, another $11,000 either came from businesses he owns and that bear his name or are tenants of building for which he holds the title.
With no opponent so far, Sotelo appears to be in something of a bulking phase and has spent very little of his funds aside from general website and print material expenses, payment to GOP fundraising platform WinRed, about $550 on postage and $1,345 to campaign marketing and relations firm Dark Horse Strategies, which lists Rodriguez, U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, Miami-Dade Commission Chair Jose “Pepe” Diaz and former state Sen. Frank Artiles among its many prominent clients.
A self-described “small business owner who runs various businesses here in South Florida,” Sotelo has been a perennial candidate but hasn’t yet scored a win since entering politics in 2018.
That year, he ran as a no-party candidate for HD 119, which term-limited Jeanette Nuñez represented at the time before becoming Gov. Ron DeSantis’ running mate. He received just 4.4% of the vote.
Most recently, Sotelo made a failed bid last year for a seat on a Miami-Dade community council, but lost with the second-most votes.
Sotelo is running on a pro-business, pro-freedoms and public safety platform. His website says he, if elected, “will fight to keep Florida and our community open for business” and condemns the “overwhelming presence” of crime in the community.
In the past, he’s expressed frustration with residential flooding, writing on Twitter in June 2018, “I am tired of dealing with roads that become lakes after the rain (and also) of the inaction of our elected officials to deal with the problem which only seems to get worse.”
Sotelo’s lack of name recognition may prove a hindrance, but his party affiliation and cultural background — he immigrated from Cuba at age 10 — should be an asset if he makes it to the 2022 General Election. In the last decade, Democrats have only managed to hold HD 118 for a single two-year term.
The district includes parts of Miami-Dade County’s Country Walk, Crossings, Kendale Lakes and Tamiami neighborhoods, all of which are predominantly Hispanic and skew conservative.
Rodriguez, who is only in his second of four permissible two-year terms in the House, has set his sights on more local pastures. He’s raised nearly $300,000 to date to succeed longtime Miami-Dade Commissioner Javier Souto, whose Commission district includes much of the area Rodriguez represents now in Tallahassee.