It took Democratic lawyer and entrepreneur Ashley Gantt less than three months to close the fundraising gap between herself and incumbent Democratic Rep. James Bush III, whom she hopes to unseat this year.
That included another successful round of fundraising last month, when her campaign account took in about $11,000 — a sum she outspent by about $1,000.
As of May 31, Gantt has raised more than $53,000. Of that, she has about $39,000 left.
More than 55 people donated to her campaign in May. Most of those contributions came through checks of $100 or less. Among her noteworthy donors are former Miami-Dade County Commissioner Kathryn Sorenson, lawyer and House District 114 candidate Adam Benna and veteran Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert.
She also received $1,000 from For a Brighter Future, the political committee of Pinecrest Village Council member Anna Hochkammer.
The preponderance of Gantt’s $12,000 in spending last month went to Jasmine Ali-Mohammed, a 2018 candidate for the Leon County Commission, for “campaign management services.”
She paid another $1,750 to Ulvert’s company, Edge Communications, for consulting services.
The remainder went to ads, supplies and various other general campaign costs.
Bush, meanwhile, took in $8,300 for his second-largest round of monthly fundraising since he filed for re-election in July 2021.
He’s raised $47,000 this election cycle. Of that, he still holds $39,000.
Most of his May gains came from one source: Natlie Figgers, a Coral Springs-based lawyer who donated to Bush through six businesses she either owns or with which she is associated.
He also accepted five personal checks of between $50 and $100.
Bush spent nothing in May. Of the $8,200 he’s paid out this election cycle, almost all went to advertising and marketing.
Gantt, the founder and managing partner of Gantt Legacy Law in Miami, announced her candidacy for HD 109 on March 16. Prior to running, she represented District 2 on the Miami-Dade Citizens’ Independent Transportation Trust, an appointed body that oversees the use of billions of dollars collected through the countywide half-percent surtax known as the “half-penny.”
She said she was running to better represent people in the heavily Democratic-leaning HD 109, which spans north-central Miami-Dade, including parts of Miami, Hialeah, Miami Lakes, North Miami and Opa-locka.
Many people there, she said, “feel left out and left behind by decisions made by elected leaders.”
That could be perceived as a slight dig against Bush, who has served South Florida in the House in three separate stints dating back to 1992. His most recent stretch began in November 2018, when he defeated one Primary opponent before coasting through the General Election without opposition.
Two years later, he won re-election unopposed.
A retired teacher, Bush hasn’t been shy about voting against his party. He cast the only Democratic “yes” vote for HB 1557, a controversial measure critics dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law that restricts public school discussions of gender preference and sexual orientation.
He was also the lone Democrat to support a new statewide ban on abortion after 15 weeks that includes no exception for rape or incest.
It remains to be seen how much those votes affect his popularity in his district, where in January he served as Grand Marshal of the 2022 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day festivities.
So far, no Republican has filed in the race. The Primary election takes place on Aug. 23.
Candidates faced a Friday deadline to report all campaign finance activity through the end of May.