Janelle Perez raises $69K in first half of August, grows commanding cash lead in SD 38

Pereze, Janelle 3
She got a lift from legal and lobbying firms in addition to around 90 personal checks, most for $100 or less.

After months of falling second to her Republican opponent in fundraising and spending, Democrat Janelle Perez spent the first half of August stacking $69,000 toward her Senate bid.

She also spent more than $31,000 so far this month to outpace Republican Alexis Calatayud in campaign activity, not including nearly $4,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Florida Democratic Party for campaign staff costs.

Perez and Calatayud are competing for the open seat representing Senate District 38, which covers several coastal municipalities in Miami-Dade County, 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.

Since filing for state office in September, Perez has raised $624,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Democracy and Freedom. Of that, she had $521,000 left by Aug. 18.

More than 90 people donated to Perez this month. Most checks came in at less than $100.

She received a significant bump from the legal field. Tallahassee lawyer Dana Brooks and Fort Lauderdale lawyer Michael Freedland each gave her $10,000. West Palm Beach-based firm Searcy Denney Sacarola Barnhart & Shipley donated $6,000.

Several others gave $1,000, including Miami-based Stewart Tilghman Fox Bianchi & Cain and Hickey Law Firm, Coral Gables-based Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen and The Haggard Law Firm, and Fort Lauderdale-headquartered Liberman Cabrera Thompson & Reitman and Kelly | Uustal PLC.

Perez also took $5,000 donations from SEIU Florida and Engaged Florida, a political committee chaired by her campaign consultant, Christian Ulvert.

Other donations included $4,000 from United Teachers of Dade and $1,000 apiece from LGBTQ Victory Fund, Equality Florida Action PAC and Fight for Our Future, the political committee of Danielle Cohen Higgins, who on Tuesday successfully defended her seat on the Miami-Dade County Commission.

Perez paid $7,700 to Ulvert’s company, Edge Communications, for advertising costs. She also paid $5,00 to Win Canvass LLC for outreach, $4,700 to Miami-based Good Catch, $2,600 to NGP Van for voter access and a little over $1,000 to Palmetto Bay-based DSF Group for campaign apparel.

Calatayud in the first half of August raised $23,000, a sum she outspent by $4,000 on consulting and material costs. She also received nearly $4,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee for additional consulting expenditures.

Since filing for state office in April, she has raised more than $300,000. She had $221,000 remaining by Aug. 18 between her campaign account and political committee, Vision & Integrity for Florida.

An overwhelming majority of Calatayud’s gains this month so far came from corporations and organizations, including several political committees.

Her biggest donor was the Florida Association of Realtors, which gave $3,000. Helping You, a political committee steered by former Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera contributed $2,000. So did Lopez-Cantera’s super PAC, Reform Government, and a political committee called First Amendment Fund.

She received $1,000 apiece from the Florida Bankers Association, Maritime Leadership Committee, Florida Outdoor Advertising PAC and the political committees of Republican state Sen. Tom Wright and Rep. Blaise Ingoglia.

NBCUniversal Media, the Entertainment Software Association, Florida Nursery Growers and Landscapers Association and international law firm McGuireWoods also donated $1,000 each.

Calatayud’s largest expenditure was a $11,000 payment to Tallahassee-based consulting firm Taylor Strategies. She also paid $4,100 to campaign staffer Arian Monzon, whose work history includes a district secretary stint under Doral state Sen. Ana Maria Rodriguez, $1,500 to Coral Gables consulting firm Miranda Advocacy for “communications” and $657 to The Miami Shirt Company for campaign apparel.

Perez, a member of the LGBTQ community who served as the first chair of the Miami LGBTQ+ Advisory Board, is a co-owner of her family’s Coral Gables-based managed care company Doctors HealthCare Plans Inc.

She originally filed in August to run against U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar, but reset her sights on the Legislature’s upper chamber less than a month later.

Calatayud, meanwhile, entered the 2022 election field at first as a candidate for House District 115, where she hoped to succeed her former boss, Miami Republican state Rep. Vance Aloupis. After Florida’s decennial redistricting process, she switched to the newly drawn SD 38.

Neither candidate faced an opponent in the Primary Election. The General Election is on Nov. 8.

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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