Ashley Gantt collects $25K in two weeks for HD 109 bid

Ashley Gantt - Blurred Background
Most of her March gains came through grassroots donations.

Democratic lawyer Ashley Gantt raised $25,000 in two weeks of campaigning to wrest the seat representing House District 109 from incumbent Democratic Rep. James Bush III.

Bush, meanwhile, took March off from fundraising following the end of the Legislative Session. He still held a $5,000 lead as of March 31, less than six months before the Primary Election.

During March, nearly 80 people gave checks ranging from $25 to $1,000.

Kevin Cho Tipton, a critical care nurse and past political committee lead who in November announced plans to challenge Bush, gave $1,000. (He has yet to file, according to Division of Elections records.)

Veteran Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert and Trina Harris, owner of Suite 110 Urbanwear, each chipped in $500. Harris is also CEO of the nonprofit Touching Miami with Love.

Gantt also received $50 apiece from former state Sen. Dwight Bullard and Rahil Briggs, the national director of early childhood development nonprofit HealthySteps. Carnell Staples, a lead organizer with the Dream Defenders, contributed $25.

Several organizational and corporate donors gave as well. Three real estate-focused limited liability companies registered under the name of Plantation-based YKI Group President Steven Kabat donated a combined $3,000 to Gantt.

Vanity Number Leasing, a Plantation-based company that leases out phone numbers, gave $1,000.

Vanity manager Merick Lewin, the CEO of advertising agency Trispark Media who chairs the board of directors of Take Stock in Children Broward, also gave $1,000.

So did Lewin’s political committee, One Positive Step Inc., and a person listed at his address on Gantt’s donations ledger.

Other $1,000 donations came from the Ruth’s List Florida, which endorsed Gantt late last month, and for-profit arts organization Urban Gateways. Urban Gateways President and CEO Keon Williams, a native of Miami’s Overtown neighborhood and the assistant director of strategic community investments for the nonprofit Urban Philanthropies, gave another $1,000.

Gantt did all of her fundraising on or after March 16, the same day she launched her campaign for HD 109. Her sole expense since then was a $634 payment to donations platform Anedot.

Bush holds $29,600 in his campaign account. He didn’t raise or spend a cent in March.

The founder and managing partner of Gantt Legacy Law P.A. in Miami, Gantt boasts a decade and a half of service to the community, beginning when she graduated from the University of Florida in 2007 and joined the nonprofit service group, Teach for America, to help close the achievement gap between young learners.

Gantt taught middle and high school in Miami-Dade County Public Schools before earning her law degree, after which she worked as an assistant public defender in Broward County. There, she twice earned acclaim for earning “not guilty” verdicts in at least three consecutive trials.

In Miami-Dade, she represented District 2 on the Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, which oversees the use of billions of dollars collected through a countywide half-percent surtax known as the half-penny.

Bush is a retired teacher who has served three separate stints representing the heavily Democratic-leaning HD 109, which spans north-central Miami-Dade, including parts of Miami, Hialeah, Miami Lakes, North Miami and Opa-locka.

He hasn’t been afraid to vote against his party, as evidenced in his being the only Democratic “yes” vote for HB 1557, a controversial measure restricting classroom instruction on sexual orientation and gender identity that Gov. Ron DeSantis signed March 28.

Bush’s most recent run in the Legislature began in 2018, when he defeated his lone Primary opponent, Cedric McMinn, by 6.4 percentage points and coasted into office after no General Election challenger arose.

He won re-election unopposed two years later.

Candidates faced an April 11 deadline to report all campaign finance activity through March 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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