Miami Commission candidate Michael Hepburn gained endorsements from two more political committees this month, further bolstering his bid to unseat District 5 incumbent Jeffrey Watson.
They join The Collective PAC, a national committee dedicated to boosting Black participation and political representation, which endorsed him about a month ago.
Hepburn told Florida Politics many additional endorsements, including one from a member of Congress, will be announced over the coming weeks.
“We’re just getting started,” he said. “This just reaffirms we are in the top two of those getting ready to become the next Miami Commissioner in District 5. It reaffirms to my residents that all this hard work we’ve been doing — the 22,000 houses I’ve visited, the mail and door hangers we’ve sent out — shows we’re ready to take over to become commissioner of this district.”
Hepburn, the executive director of nonprofit Reimagine Miami Foundation, is campaigning in the city’s most crowded race. It includes Watson, whom city commissioners appointed last November to succeed Keon Hardemon, who left City Hall after being elected to the Miami-Dade County Commission.
Their opponents include Christine King, a lawyer and CEO of the nonprofit Martin Luther King Jr. Economic Development Corp., who has so far shown to be the most robust fundraiser in the field with a nearly $190,000 war chest; François Jr. Alexandre, who sued Miami after city police beat him; Zico Fremont, a local business owner and nonprofit worker; Revran Lincoln, an Overtown property owner who leads the nonprofit People Helping People Self Reliance Inc.; and Stephanie Thomas, a former North Miami deputy city clerk.
Like Hepburn and Watson, all of them were among 14 people who applied last year to fill the vacancy Hardemon created.
Watson said last year he would not run to keep his seat when his one-year term ended. He has since gone back on that pledge. During his brief time in office, he said, he has connected with his constituents, grown familiar with the city’s inner workings, and identified problems for which he could develop solutions.
Manolo Reyes, Watson’s peer on the Commission who solicited from Watson a commitment to vacate the District 5 seat in exchange for his support, said he would back a Watson seat-retention campaign after seeing his work in the community during the pandemic, including efforts to get Black residents vaccinated and delivering financial support to the community.
Hepburn’s campaign has raised about $28,000. That includes about $25,000 in self-loans, of which he has repaid himself all but $5,000. As of Aug. 31, he has less than $4,000 unspent.
He does not have his own political committee but said a few not under his control support his candidacy.
Way to Lead PAC provides financial support directly and through independent expenditures to Democratic candidates who partner with movements and communities most impacted by injustice, according to the group’s website. The PAC, which this month also threw its support behind former State Attorney Aramis Ayala in her bid for the seat opening in Florida’s 10th Congressional District, focuses on eight states: Arizona, Texas, Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Minnesota.
For the Future PAC is a “youth-founded, youth-led organization” focused on sustainability and economic, racial, housing, and health care justice. The Palo Pinto, Texas-based group also backs Christine Olivo, who is challenging incumbent Democratic U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson to represent CD 24.