Mario Díaz-Balart zips past $1M raised this cycle with donations from transportation, telecoms
It was Super Bowl Tuesday for Mario Díaz-Balart. Image via AP.

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Now seeking his 11th consecutive term, Díaz-Balart is the longest serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation.

U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart crossed the $1 million mark in funds raised this election cycle in the first quarter of 2022, when he added close to $250,000 to his sizable war chest through plentiful donations from the transportation, telecommunication and energy industries.

He spent roughly half that over the same period, leaving roughly $1.57 million in his campaign coffers as of March 31 to defend Florida’s 26th Congressional District.

Not that he necessarily needed to. His sole Democratic opponent is running in the red after another period of spending more than she took in. And the only person challenging him in the Republican Primary raised nothing last quarter.

Around 60 people gave to him directly between Jan. 1 and March 31 with checks ranging from $100 to $5,600 — the upper limit of what candidates can accept from individual donors, equal to $2,900 each for the Primary and General elections.

But his first-quarter gains came overwhelmingly through business and organizational contributions.

Aviation companies gave generously through political committees, and in great numbers. Aerospace and tech giant Honeywell gave $5,000. Airbus gave $3,000. AAR Corp., a private aviation services provider headquartered in Illinois, donated $2,900.

Díaz-Balart also received $2,500 from American Airlines, Boeing, Embraer Fort Lauderdale-based Aircraft Holding Inc., trade associations Airlines for America and the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, and the NetJets Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots, a union representing some 2,400 pilots who fly for private business jet company NetJets.

Missouri-based transportation infrastructure company Herzog Contracting Corp. donated $5,000. The Transportation Intermediaries Association, which represents third-party logistics professionals, gave $2,900. Atlanta-based rail company Norfolk Southern chipped in $2,500.

Telecom giants AT&T and Motorola topped the list of donors from the telecommunications and technology sector with $5,000 apiece. Comcast Corp. and OSI Systems, which specializes in medical and security tech, each gave $2,500.

From the energy sector, none gave greater than San Diego-based energy and defense corporation General Atomics, which donated $5,000. The Williams Companies, an Oklahoma-headquartered energy company specializing in natural gas, petroleum and electrical power, gave $2,500.

Exxon Mobile Corp. gave $2,000. San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric donated half that.

Diaz-Balart’s single largest contribution was a $10,000 donation from the lobbying arm of the International Union of Operating Engineers.

His second-largest organizational donation came from the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee, a $5,800 donation.

He also received $2,500 apiece from defense company BAE Systems USA, Amentum and a political committee backing the employee of San Diego-based transportation and defense corporation Cubic Corp.

Razor PAC, a political committee associated with U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Arkansas, gave $5,000.

Political committees associated with former Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos and former California U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, who is now runs the social media platform Truth Social, each donated $2,000.

Díaz-Balart’s first-quarter spending amounted to $117,000. Of that, more than $53,000 covered travel, lodging and food costs. He spent another $30,000 on campaign materials — marketing, emails, printing and a website — and $21,000 on administrative and fundraising consulting.

The remainder went to processing fees and general upkeep, including storage and bank fees.

Díaz-Balart, who is seeking his 11th consecutive term, is the longest-serving Congressperson from Florida. While he is technically the Representative of — and running in — Florida’s 25th Congressional District, the new congressional map drawn by Gov. Ron DeSantis and approved last month by the Florida Legislature place him in CD 26, which spreads horizontally from Naples in Collier County to Hialeah in Miami-Dade County.

Voters within the district’s bounds favored the GOP in 2020, according to an MCI Maps analysis that found nearly 59% of ballots cast went to former President Donald Trump compared to less than 41% for President Joe Biden.

That doesn’t bode well for Democratic candidate Christine Alexandia Olivo, who in mid-March switched from mounting a Primary challenge against incumbent U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson in Florida’s 24th Congressional District to running against Díaz-Balart.

Compounding matters, Olivo continued to struggle in fundraising, adding just over $2,000 in three months — a sum she all but wiped out with more than $2,100 in spending.

Her gains came exclusively through individual donations; five people gave to Olivo’s campaign. Her largest check was for $1,000. Its author: actress Susan Sarandon.

Nearly half Olivo’s expenses went to Nu View Consulting, a Maryland-based firm led by Democratic consultant Neal Carter, whose LinkedIn page lists Barack Obama, John Kerry and U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland as past clients.

Olivo spent $800 on voter outreach and campaign upkeep, including printing and web hosting payments. The remainder covered travel expenses, fundraising fees and bank fees.

Adam Gentle, a Democratic lawyer who launched a campaign against Díaz-Balart in May 2021, dropped that bid in January to instead run for Florida House District 120.

That leaves only one other person in the race: Republican Darren Aquino.

Since September, Aquino has mounted a self-funded campaign and held slightly more than $24,000 as of March 31 after raising and spending nothing since New Year’s Day.

An anti-abortion and pro-police candidate, according to his campaign website, Aquino previously ran for New York City Mayor in 2016 and for Florida’s 19th Congressional District in 2020, when he placed eighth in a nine-candidate Republican Primary.

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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