Vance Aloupis crosses $200K to defend HD 115 seat with gains from charter schools, trade groups

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Aloupis is still unopposed in his re-election bid.

Rep. Vance Aloupis raised more than $33,000 last month to defend his seat representing House District 115. More than half of his gains came from charter schools, trade groups and the legal, lobbying and government affairs sector.

With that haul, the Miami Republican now holds close to $207,000 between his campaign account and political committee, The Right Future for Florida. And he’s still unopposed.

Aloupis received several individual donations, some as low as $25. He got $1,000 apiece from The Southern Group managing partner Nelson Diaz, Sunshine Gasoline President Max Alvarez, and Marshall Field, a retail executive and investor who formerly ran the Chicago Sun-Times.

His biggest donation in December was an $8,000 check from Red Appel Development, a charter school developer headquartered in Fort Lauderdale that is a sister company to Charter Schools USA, one of the largest charter school operators in the country.

Aloupis’ second-largest contribution, $5,000, came from Florida Workers’ Advocates, an organization of civil justice lawyers representing injured Florida workers.

The Miami chapter of the International Longshoremen’s Association gave $1,000. Associated Industries of Florida, a Tallahassee-based free enterprise organization, gave $500.

Lobbyist Ron Book contributed $2,500. So did Tallahassee-based government affairs firm Johnson & Blanton.

Other noteworthy contributions included $1,000 each from health insurance company Humana, HCA Healthcare, the Seminole Tribe of Florida, NBCUniversal Media, the Entertainment Software Association, Realtors PAC and the Florida lobbying arm of The Doctors Company, which describes itself as “the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer.”

Aloupis spent more than $14,000 in December. Roughly half went to consulting companies.

He paid $4,600 to the Tampa-based Capital Campaign Group whose founder, Samantha Blair, is a former NFL cheerleader who worked as a finance director on Attorney General Ashley Moody’s campaign.

He paid another $2,500 to the Cutler Bay-based firm Miranda Advocacy.

Aloupis also paid nearly $4,000 to the Miami-based CPA firm Puerto Renfrow for accounting services and more than $1,600 to Fort Lauderdale-based Doubletake Marketing for “digital and web hosting.”

Under “other distributions,” Aloupis listed a $1,000 purchase from Sanford-based FQ Cigars.

A lawyer by training, Aloupis is the CEO of The Children’s Movement of Florida, a Miami-headquartered nonprofit dedicated to advocating for improved early learning opportunities.

He joined the organization in 2010 after working in a South Dade juvenile detention center, where he determined that the best way to ensure a child’s future success is by investing as much as possible in their educational development.

Aloupis traveled repeatedly to Tallahassee over the next several years, trying to persuade legislators to take a greater interest in early learning programs and initiatives. Unsatisfied with the responses he got, he ran for office.

“The conversations around education reform were always around school choice or higher ed — all important issues, but my mind kept coming back to the fact that you had 40% of children coming into kindergarten who were deemed, quote, ‘not read.’ And if we were truly interested in trying to address reading proficiency, high school graduation, etc., it was in our best interest as a state to create a world-class early learning system,” he told Florida Politics. “After six or seven years of going to Tallahassee and feeling like there wasn’t anybody who really was willing to make this issue a priority, I decided to run for office and say that this was going to be the issue I would do my best to champion.”

In November 2018, Aloupis captured the HD 115 seat by just 579 votes to succeed Republican Rep. Michael Bileca. Two years later, he improved his victory margin substantially, winning the seat by 15 percentage points.

The 38-year-old now chairs the Early Learning and Elementary Education Subcommittee and sits on the Education and Employment Committee, PreK-12 Appropriations Subcommittee, and Children, Families and Seniors Subcommittee, among others.

HD 115 leans Republican, having remained in GOP hands for nearly a decade, and currently includes parts of the cities of Doral, Miami, South Miami, Pinecrest, Palmetto Bay and some of Miami-Dade County’s unincorporated area, including Kendall, Fontainebleau, Glenvar Heights and Westchester.

The House is considering redistricting plans which would keep Aloupis in HD 115. The district will shrink slightly on its northern end while growing in its southeastern portion.

Candidates faced a Monday deadline to report all campaign finance activities through Dec. 31.

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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