Alexis Calatayud again outraises, outspends Democratic SD 38 opponent with ample GOP help
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Alexis Calatayud - Website
Her biggest benefactor was once again Senator-elect Bryan Ávila, who coasted to victory unopposed last month.

Republican Alexis Calatayud continued closing in on Democrat Janelle Perez in the race for the open seat representing Senate District 38 in June, when she amassed double her opponent’s gains and outpaced her in spending too.

Calatayud hauled in more than $111,000 last month thanks to ample support from her party. That sum doesn’t include roughly $5,000 worth of in-kind aid the Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee sent her way for consulting.

As of June 30 — more than four months from her Nov. 8 General Election showdown with Perez — Calatayud held $183,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Vision & Integrity for Florida.

Calatayud initially filed in April to run to succeed her former boss, Miami Rep. Vance Aloupis, who announced in March that he would not seek a third term representing House District 115. By early May, reshuffling of races within the Republican Party reset her sights on SD 38, where she faces Perez, a fellow first-time candidate.

Calatayud’s second month of campaigning for SD 38 marked the first in which she funded campaign communications and voter outreach. Of the $39,000 she spent in June, more than $5,700 covered “campaign materials,” $5,000 went to advertising and $1,800 paid for website design, web hosting and a campaign logo.

That money went to Miranda Advocacy, a Miami-Dade County-based firm that took an additional $7,500 in consulting fees.

Calatayud paid $7,400 to Tallahassee-headquartered Taylor Strategies, also for consulting. The rest of her spending covered accounting, bank and merchant fees and a qualifying payment for the SD 38 race.

As she did in May, when she collected $112,000, Calatayud benefitted from an influx of cash from state GOP officials. Her largest contribution came from Fighting for Florida’s Families, the political committee of Senator-elect Bryan Ávila.

Ávila, a former House Speaker Pro Tempore from Miami who won his Senate District 39 after no one ran against him, also gave Calatayud $20,000 in May.

Education for All and Equality Champions, a pair of political committees chaired by Leon County Republican State Committeeman David Ramba, gave $5,000 each.

More than 30 people donated to Calatayud’s campaign in June, with checks ranging from $26 to $1,000. Other $1,000 donations came through the political committees of House Speaker-designate Paul Renner, state Reps. Colleen Burton, Erin Grall, Tommy Gregory, Anthony Rodriguez and John Snyder, and former Rep. J.W. Grant, who now works as Florida’s Chief Information Officer.

Many more political committees not tied directly to politicians turned out as well. The most generous among them was Floridians United for Our Children, which gave $10,000. The committee’s chair is Brewster Bevis, president and CEO of Associated Industries of Florida, which derives the majority of its funds from six companies: sugar giants Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, for-profit hospital operator HCA Healthcare Inc., state utility Florida Power & Light, Walt Disney World and health insurer Florida Blue.

School Development HC Finance, a political committee managed by Ignacio Zuleta, one of the founders of charter school management company Academica, gave $4,000. Zuleta chipped in another $1,000.

While Calatayud came out on top in fundraising for the second month in a row, Perez still holds the bigger war chest, with $440,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Democracy and Freedom.

That includes more than $51,000 Perez gained in June through a blend of political, corporate and grassroots fundraising.

She also spent $22,000 and enjoyed nearly $34,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Democratic Party, the most given to her in any month since she filed to run for state office in September.

That money helped cover campaign staff, consulting, fundraising database and research costs, her campaign reported.

Perez also spent $10,000 on additional consulting services from Plantation-based MDW Communications and Edge Communications, a Miami-based firm run by veteran Democratic strategist Christian Ulvert.

Other expenditures included a $3,000 self-reimbursement for catering at a fundraising event and a $500 sponsorship payment to LezPLay Bae LLC, a Riviera Beach-headquartered LGBTQ organization, for a July 30 “Girls, Gays & Theys Prom” at the Adriene Arsht Center in Miami.

The event’s website prominently displays a logo for Perez’s campaign.

A co-owner of her family’s Coral Gables-based managed care company, Doctors HealthCare Plans Inc., Perez is a member of the LGBTQ community and has served on at least two LGBTQ governmental advisory boards in Miami-Dade.

Close to 120 people donated to her campaign last month through checks ranging from $1 to $1,000. Noteworthy contributors included former U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, former Pinecrest Mayor and state Rep. Cindy Lerner, and Ibis Valdes, a business consultant who last year mounted a since-canceled bid for the Miami-Dade Commission.

Her most sizable donations in June were a pair of $10,000 checks from the firm of lobbyist Ron Book and West Flagler Associates, which operates Magic City Casino in Miami, among other operations.

A pair of progressive political committees run by law firm Haber Blank donated $7,500.

Outfront Media, an outdoor advertising company, gave $1,500.

Perez also accepted $1,000 checks from Latino Victory Fund and the political committees of Miami Sen. Annette Taddeo, who is running to unseat the Congresswoman whom Perez initially filed to run against, María Elvira Salazar, and Broward County Commissioner Jared Moskowitz, who is running for Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.

SD 38 covers several coastal Miami-Dade municipalities, including Cutler Bay, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, parts of Homestead and Coral Gables, and the unincorporated neighborhoods of Goulds, Kendall, Sunset, Perrine, Redland and Westchester.

Candidates faced a Friday deadline to report all campaign finance activity through July 1.

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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