Robert Gonzalez debuts with $84K in four-way GOP contest for HD 119
Robert Gonzalez hits the campaign trail running.

Robert Gonzalez FP
Gonzalez was the only candidate in the field whose gains reached five digits last month.

With nearly $84,000 added in March, lawyer Robert Gonzalez moved into second place in overall funds raised in what is now a four-way Republican contest to determine who will represent House District 119 later this year.

Gonzalez, a personal injury, labor and homeowners’ insurance attorney was one of two people to file for the race in March. He was the only candidate in the field whose gains reached five digits last month.

“I am humbled and proud about our first-month fundraising performance,” Gonzalez told Florida Politics. “Mostly, I appreciate all of my donors’ investment in my campaign, and I look forward to earning my fellow Republicans’ trust and support to become our party’s nominee in District 119 during the upcoming Primary Election.”

More than 100 people gave Gonzalez’s campaign donations ranging from $10 to $1,000. In keeping with his area of expertise, most of the corporate contributions came from local legal and health care businesses.

That included $2,000 from attorney referral company Keep Calm Services and a subsidiary listed at the same address, as well as $1,000 from Velazquez & Perez Perez Law Firm, the Law Offices of Jose R. Fernandez, Dream Team Law, Med-Care Infusion Services, Omni Neurological Orthopedic and Spine Center and Gonzalez’s own firm, PereGonza.

Gonzalez also bet on himself by lending his campaign more than $17,000.

His partner at the firm, Juan Perez, donated $1,000.

Maximo Alvarez, president and founder of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors and a big supporter of South Florida Republicans, donated $3,000 through three companies he owns.

Gonzalez also accepted $1,000 from Republican Sweetwater Rep. David Borrero’s political committee, Floridians for Prosperity, and $100 from Miami-Dade County-based mixed martial arts academy MMA Masters.

He spent about $1,600, nearly all of it on credit card processing fees from donations platform Anedot.

Teacher Jose Soto, who filed on March 9 to run in HD 119, raised $1,600 over the following 22 days. All but $100 of it was a self-loan to his campaign. The remainder was a $100 cash donation from a retiree.

His campaign account show he spent $185 last month on a P.O. box rental, campaign cellphone and copies of his candidate petition.

Hotelier Ricky Tsay still leads in total funding, with nearly $147,000 held as of March 31 between his campaign and political committee, Friends of Ricky Tsay. Still, he only raised $500 last month.

The money came from four individual donations, the largest of which was $250.

Tsay (pronounced “sigh”) works in his family’s real estate and hotel business, Tsay International, which owns and operates the International Inn on Miami Beach and the Parkway Inn in Miami.

While attending Hampshire College, he chaired the Massachusetts Alliance of College Republicans.

Tsay initially filed to run in House District 118, where he would have faced GOP incumbent Juan Fernandez-Barquin and repeat candidate Daniel Sotelo for the party nod. He refiled to run in HD 119 last month around the time he released a campaign video detailing his platform, which includes pushing for minimal government involvement in Floridians’ daily lives and shutting down so-called “socialist policies” coming from the federal government.

He spent more than $12,000 last month. More than half paid for consulting. He paid about $5,800 to the campaign strategy firm High Sail Strategies. Another $2,400 went to Miami-based consultant Jonathan Orriols.

Tsay also spent $1,700 on direct mailer services, $1,200 on general liability insurance, $150 on accounting and repaid himself $950 for campaign expenses.

The fourth candidate in the race, Juan Carlos Porras, has yet to report any fundraising or spending because he filed on April 1, one day after announcing his plan to run.

A lifelong resident of HD 119, Porras is the former president of the FIU College Republicans, a chapter of the College Republican National Committee that has hosted numerous local politicians, including former Gov. Jeb Bush and former Rep. José Félix Díaz.

He most recently worked as a legislative aide for Hialeah Rep. Alex Rizo. He’s also worked under North Fort Myers Rep. Spencer Roach and U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.

Post-redistricting, HD 119 covers a strip of unincorporated west Miami-Dade County encompassing West Kendall, Country Walk and The Crossings.

Candidates faced an April 11 deadline to report all campaign finance activity through the end of March.

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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