Race for open HD 106 seat flooded with more than $760K in March

HD 106
All four candidates have poured large sums of their own money into the race.

The contest to determine who will represent House District 106 this November saw its largest infusion of cash this election cycle last month, when more than $760,000 entered four candidates’ campaign coffers.

Roughly two-thirds of that sum came from the candidates themselves.

For Republican former reality TV star Fabían Basabe, who last year unsuccessfully ran for the Miami Beach Commission, all of his gains since he launched his House bid March 2 have come from his own bank account.

Basabe loaned himself $250,000, listing his profession as “full-time parent” on his campaign account’s donations ledger.

As of March 31, he hadn’t spent a cent.

Democratic Miami Beach Commissioner David Richardson also entered the race for HD 106 with an impressive opening round of fundraising.

Richardson hauled in nearly $476,685 last month between his campaign and political committee, Floridians for Better Government PCroughly $25,000 less than his campaign said he added.

However, the former House member’s campaign did accurately report a self-loan by Richardson of $260,000.

More than 100 people gave Richardson checks ranging from $5 to $1,000. Most were for at least $500.

Among his noteworthy individual donors: former U.S. Rep. Donna Shalala, lobbyist Brian May, and Bilzin Sumberg partner David Resnick.

A significant chunk of the donations Richardson received came from the real estate, construction and hospitality sectors.

Miami Beach Realtor Harry Scott Huizenga, who owns the Williams Island Marina in Aventura, topped the list with $13,000.

Miami-based developer Crescent Heights gave $10,000 through 10 subsidiaries. Tanja Inc., which owns stakes in numerous restaurant and bar sites throughout South Florida, gave $10,000 too.

Steven Witkoff, a New York developer who donated big last year to Miami’s two best funded candidates, Mayor Francis Suarez and Commissioner Joe Carollo, gave $6,000. Three of his relatives — Zachary Witkoff, Lauren Witkoff and Alexander Witkoff — gave $1,000 apiece.

Richardson also got $1,000 donations from South Florida real estate developer and former Miami Beach Mayor Neisen Kasdin, Hilton Bentley Hotel CEO Julie Grimes, Boucher Brothers CEO Adam Cedrati and Sam Latone, president and CEO of the Shopping Center Group.

Mango’s Tropical Café, one of several bar businesses that protested a proposal last year to enact a 2 a.m. last call for alcohol sales in the South Beach Entertainment District, gave Richardson $6,000 directly and another $4,000 through four companies listed at its address.

Davie-based construction contractor ANF Group gave $5,000. Five companies associated with Ocean Terrace Holdings, a joint venture between Miami Beach developer Sandor Scher and Alex Blavatnik, chipped in the same amount through five associated companies.

Miami law firm Bercow Radell Fernandez Larkin & Tampanes donated $5,000, as did Miami Beach firm LSN Law P.A. Campaign adviser Alex Miranda’s company, Miranda Advocacy, gave $3,500.

Truth is the Daughter of Time, a political committee run by lobbyist and former Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff, gave $8,000. Sarnoff has also donated to the election campaign of Miami-Dade County Commissioner Danielle Cohen Higgins (who was appointed in late 2020) and former Miami Beach Commissioner Micky Steinberg’s Miami-Dade Commission campaign.

Richardson, a forensic accountant in his private life who became Florida’s first openly gay state lawmaker to win office with his historic 2012 election to the House, spent just under $3,000 in March.

All but $1,000 of it was on fees for campaign donations platform Anedot.

Meanwhile, Democratic Bay Harbor Islands Council Member and former Mayor Jordan Leonard turned in his third-best fundraising month in March, when he amassed $32,500 between his campaign account and political committee, Americans for Florida.

That included a $15,000 self-loan.

Through March 31, Leonard held more than $260,000, which is about $64,000 less than he raised since launching his House bid a year ago.

Leonard received donations from several industries, including marketing and duty-free retail. But like Richardson, most of his gains came from companies in or associated with real estate.

Aventura-based mega-developer Turnberry gave Leonard his largest single donation last month, a $5,000 check. Pompano Beach-based developer David Mancini & Sons Inc. was a close runner-up, with $4,000 donated.

Leonard also got $2,500 from Jeremy Britton, chief operating officer for Alabama-based Custom Tree Care Disaster Recovery, $1,250 from a subsidiary of Miami-based real estate company PPG Development and $1,000 from Realtor Eric Rappaport of Bay Harbor Islands.

He spent more than $13,000 last month. Of that, $5,000 went to “finance consulting” from Orlando-based Spotlight Strategies and another $5,000 went to Fort Lauderdale-based TLE Analytics for “political consulting” and a “media buy.”

Wilton Manors headquartered Johnson Strategies got $3,000. Democratic direct mail firm Bergmann Zwerdling Direct received $1,000.

Republican community leader Wena “Lynn Su” Sutjapojnukul had her best round of fundraising in months but still failed to crack the $1,000 mark.

Her campaign account shows she raised $900 in March. More than half of that came from one source: Richard Carson, associated director of medical services for Paralyzed Veterans of America.

Despite several lackluster months of fundraising, Sutjapojnukul still holds about $44,000, including more than $34,000 in self-loans. That’s roughly $7,000 less than she’s raised since entering the race in June 2021.

Sutjapojnukul spent about $600 in March, most of it on development services for her campaign website.

A first-generation American of Thai descent, “Lynn Su” is a mortgage lender in private life and has held current and past board memberships to the Miami-Dade Asian American Advisory Board, North Miami Beach Redevelopment Advisory Board and Thai-American Association.

She is also the vice president of community outreach for the National Association of Asian American Professionals’ Miami branch.

HD 106 runs along the Miami-Dade coast and includes all or part of the municipalities of Aventura, Bay Harbor Islands, Miami Beach, North Bay Village, North Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach.  

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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