Lauren Book raises $70,300 to retain her SD 32 seat
Lauren Book. Image via Colin Hackley.

The Senate Democratic leader from South Florida has a challenger whose campaign shows no cash on hand.

Senate Democratic Leader Lauren Book netted $70,300 in donations in November to defend her Senate District 32 seat, campaign finance reports show.

It’s a modest haul for Book, who has fetched six-figure sums in recent months, but it certainly leaves her only challenger in the dust as far as the money race.

Book has almost $2.6 million on hand between her personal campaign account and her political committee account. However, the campaign of her challenger, Diana Bivona Belviso, reports no cash on hand and has so far drawn only in-kind donations, according to finance reports.

Donors from the health care sector accounted for the largest share of Book’s contributors, accounting for $30,000 of the $47,500 her committee received and $3,500 of the $22,800 her campaign received. A donation of $20,000, her most significant single donation, came from OD-Eyepac, a political committee chaired by Gary Barker, an optometrist and proprietor of Eye Associates of Winter Park. Book also received $10,000 from the Committee of Safety Net Hospitals, based in Tallahassee.

The hospital chain HCA Healthcare gave her personal campaign three, $1,000 donation through three of its affiliates. Political committees representing the insurance industry and individual insurance companies also chipped in $8,000 to Book’s campaign.

A Jacksonville law firm, Terrell Hogan Yegelwel, donated $10,000.

Book also received $5,000 from the political arm of Cigna, an insurance company based in Philadelphia, and $2,400 from a Mosaic Global Sales, a fertilizer company in Plymouth, Minnesota, campaign records show.

Individual donors who gave $1,000 to her campaign include Chad Perlyn, a Miami doctor, and Anthony Quackenbush, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer.

She also received $1,000 from Ruth’s List Florida, which donates to female politicians who support abortion rights.

A $30,000 donation to the Florida Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee was her biggest expense recorded during November. She also paid $2,000 for videography services.

SD 32, which Book has represented since winning the seat in 2016, covers a western portion of Broward County, including Cooper City, Davie, Weston and Plantation. The first drafts of the new Senate districts don’t show the district’s boundaries changing dramatically.

For this Session, Book has proposed legislation that would reform birth-related neurological injury compensation plans and make diapers exempt from sales tax. She has disappeared from public view recently, as a Plantation man has been charged with extorting and harassing Book.

Candidates and political committees faced a Dec. 10 deadline to report all financial activity through Nov. 30.

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]


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