Ileana Garcia, Janelle Perez both surpass $300K raised in shifted Senate race

Perez added nearly three times as much as Garcia, whom she still trails slightly in cash on hand.

October was a good fundraising month for Republican incumbent Sen. Ileana Garcia and Democratic challenger Janelle Perez, who both passed $300,000 in funds raised toward their expected bid next year in a remapped Senate District 40.

Garcia added $48,000 last month through her campaign and political committee, No More Socialism, with strong showings from the health care sector and the specialized airport baggage-handling business.

She now holds more than $345,000 to defend the seat she won last November by just 34 votes.

Philadelphia-headquartered insurer Cigna Corp., the Florida Society of Anesthesiologists and Mario Jardon, the president and CEO of Hialeah-based mental health nonprofit Citrus Health Network — which earlier this year was the focus of a probe into potentially excessive executive pay — gave $2,500 each.

The Council of Florida Family Practice and Community Teaching Hospitals gave $1,500, as did South Florida Vision.

Garcia also received $2,000 from Miami-based primary care physician Inti Fernandez and $1,000 contributions from Senior Care Pharmacy and Northport Health Services of Florida, a rehabilitation center operator that shared a Tuscaloosa address with Senior Care Pharmacy on Garcia’s contributions ledger.

Airport luggage wrapper Secure Wrap and two companies with which it shared an address on Garcia’s contributions list, Safe Wrap of Florida and Homyn Enterprises Corp., gave a combined $6,000. The company owners, Radames Villalon and Jose Villalon each gave $1,000.

Another such company, Bags to Go Enterprises, donated $1,000. Pedro Pelaez, the CEO of telecommunications company Communitel, also gave $1,000. Since 2003, he has run a luggage-wrapping company called Communitel Baggage Services Inc.

Garcia accepted fewer than 10 individual contributions in October. They ranged from $100 to $2,500.

Billionaire car dealer and former Philadelphia Eagles owner Norman Braman gave $5,000 through a handful of car dealership and real estate companies he owns.

Sen. Jason Brodeur’s political committee, Citizens for Solutions, gave the same.

Heritage MGC, a Clearwater-based property insurance company, donated $2,500. Garcia also received $1,500 from the lobbying arm of the Florida Engineering Society.

A pair of labor groups chipped in. The Dade County Firefighters Association gave $2,000. The Tallahassee-based Florida AFL-CIO, which has expressed “full support” for President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better plan, gave $1,500.

Garcia also got $2,500 from beer and spirits giant Anheuser Busch and $1,000 from Reyes Beer Division subsidiary Gold Coast Beverages.

She spent less than $600 last month. A third of that was for gas, while $350 went to international law and lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig for “event tickets” Oct. 19.

Perez, conversely, raised $137,000 last month.

Between her campaign and political committee, Democracy and Freedom, she holds about $306,000.

More than a third of her October gains — $50,000 — came through three political committees chaired by Democratic consultant and strategist Christian Ulvert, who also runs her PC. Ulvert gave another client, Sen. Annette Taddeo, who is running for Governor, a similar funding influx last month.

In October, Perez received some 60 donations as low as $5.

Her largest single donation, $20,700 came from Rafael Perez, president and CEO of health maintenance organization Doctors HealthCare Plans. She received another $8,500 from Zuleida Perez, who shares an address with Rafael Perez.

Janelle Perez is a network development contract specialist for Doctors HealthCare Plans, according to her LinkedIn page. Perez’s campaign website describes her as one of the “family-owned Medicare” company’s owners.

The Miguel B. Fernandez Trust, located in Coral Gables, named for MB Healthcare Partners Chair Miguel Fernandez, donated $10,000. So did Miami-based mortgage company Columbus Capital Lending.

Other noteworthy donations included more than $8,000 from developer Jose Gonzalez, managing member of the real estate firm Casa Bella Group; $7,000 from Coral Gables-based accounting firm Lopez & Partners; $5,000 from employment firm Regis HR Group, a subsidiary of human resources firm Vincam; $4,000 from Coral Gables-based lawyer Anthony Golden; and more than $1,600 from the Florida Democratic Party.

Perez spent more than $9,000 in October. Roughly half went to Ulvert’s company, Edge Communications. She paid $3,000 to Fort Lauderdale-based political marketing firm MDW Communications and $1,000 to Washington-based Democratic fundraising and voting contact vendor NGP Van.

SD 40 is moving from covering landlocked, unincorporated areas in southwest Miami-Dade to encompass the coastal cities of Homestead, Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami and Key Biscayne, as well as some parts of unincorporated Miami-Dade.

Rep. Michael Grieco filed paperwork Monday to run for redrawn SD 37, which Garcia represents now with its current boundaries. Once changed, SD 37 could shrink to only cover a portion of Miami-Dade’s coast, including parts of Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables and Sweetwater, as well as the city of West Miami and some unincorporated areas.

Candidates faced a Nov. 10 deadline to report all campaign finance activity through October.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


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