Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar had her best fundraising quarter since she assumed office last year, raking in $690,000 between New Year’s Day and March 31 while still spending heavily on her re-election campaign.
By the end of last month, Salazar, who represents Florida’s 27th Congressional District, held about $1.96 million of the almost $3 million she’s raised while running for and holding office. Meanwhile, her lone Democratic opponent had just over $6,000.
Salazar’s first-quarter contributions came through a blend of individual, corporate and political committee donations, including a strong showing from professional associations and unions.
Hundreds of people donated to Salazar through checks of up to $5,800 — the maximum of what a candidate can accept from individual donors, equal to $2,900 each for the Primary and General elections.
Among her noteworthy individual donors: Israeli-American billionaire businessman Micky Arison, chair of Carnival Corp. and owner of the Miami Heat; public affairs pro Rodney Barreto, chair of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission; Juan Cento, who in December retired as president of the Latin American and Caribbean Division of FedEx; Julio Del Rey Jr., co-owner of numerous erotically themed hotels in Miami and Puerto Rico; George Feldenkreis, chair of Perry Ellis International; and Pedro Munilla, president of Miami construction firm MCM, which reorganized its leadership after going into bankruptcy following the pedestrian bridge collapse near Florida International University.
Salazar’s largest gain was a more than $22,000 transfer from Friends of GOP Winning Women 2022, a new joint fundraising committee to which she is party.
Several trade groups chipped in as well. The American Society of Pension Providers, National Association of Home Builders, International Union of Operating Engineers and National Electrical Contractors Association each gave $5,000.
The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies gave $3,000. Salazar also received $2,500 from the American Resort Development Association and Auto Care Association PAC, plus another $1,000 from the American Council of Engineering Companies.
Other donations included $5,000 from the U.S. Israel PAC and UnitedHealth Group Inc. PAC, $2,500 from The Wendy’s Company and Trust (formerly BB&T), and $1,000 from Dell, T-Mobile and Gridiron PAC, the lobbying arm of the NFL.
A passel of fellow Republican politicians showed up too.
Salazar received donations from political committees associated with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and U.S. Reps. Don Bacon of Nebraska, Vern Buchanan of Florida, Ken Calvert of California, Mario Díaz-Balart Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Carlos Giménez of Florida, French Hill of Arkansas, David Joyce of Ohio, Robert Latta of Ohio, Nicole Malliotakis of New York.
She also accepted contributions from the political committees of Florida Sen. Jennifer Bradley and Rep. Byron Donalds, former U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks and New York congressional candidate George Devolder-Santos.
Salazar spent close to $395,000 in the first quarter of 2022. Of that, $205,000 covered financial, logistical, strategic, legal, communications and fundraising consulting. Another $133,000 paid for campaign advertising. The remainder went to upkeep, travel, lodging and donation processing fees.
Her Democratic opponent, Angel Montalvo, has so far remained true to his commitment to run a “100% grassroots” campaign.
Montalvo, a self-described “unapologetically progressive” candidate, raised nearly $6,000 in the first quarter, all through personal donations ranging from $20 to $250.
After spending $3,700, he had roughly the same sum he raised left in his campaign coffers.
His largest expenditure, $1,460, went to Miami-based printing company Accurate Business Systems for campaign literature, buttons, bumper stickers and other materials. He paid $1,500 for “political accounting.”
Another $500 went to “administrative assistant services,” while the remainder covered credit card processing fees.
Two other candidates are in the race: Republican Frank Polo, who filed to run in late January and so far has reported no fundraising or spending to the Federal Election Commission; and no-party Ian Anthony Medina, who is listed on the FEC website as active since filing to run in July 2021 but has reported no activity since.
CD 27 covers a large portion of Miami-Dade County, including the municipalities of Miami, Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Key Biscayne, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, North Bay Village, South Miami, West Miami and the unincorporated neighborhoods of Coral Terrace, Fisher Island, Glenvar Heights, Kendall, Olympia Heights, Richmond Heights, Sunset, The Crossings, Three Lakes, Westchester and Westwood Lakes.
Analyses of the district, as redrawn by Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration, show it being safer than before for Republicans but still the most closely divided congressional district in Florida.
It’s also 74% Hispanic, the highest percentage for the voting age population anywhere in the state.
Candidates faced an April 15 deadline to report all campaign finance activity through March 31.