Ileana Garcia drubs Democratic challenger in post-Primary fundraising, spending for SD 36

She again eschewed grassroots fundraising in favor of corporate and organizational contributions.

In the 45 days following the Primary Election, Miami Sen. Ileana Garcia enjoyed support from fellow GOP politicians, trade groups and health care businesses to collect more than $102,000 in defense of her seat representing Senate District 36.

She spent more than twice that amount over the same time span, with a large portion going to broadcast advertising. The Florida Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee also gave her $163,000 worth of in-kind aid for research, polling, consulting and staffing costs.

As of Oct. 8, the former broadcaster and first-term Senator who worked as a Press Secretary under former President Donald Trump held $609,000 between her campaign account and political committee, No More Socialism.

Garcia’s Democratic challenger, Raquel Pacheco, held a comparatively meager $85,000 after collecting less than half what she raised.

Neither candidate faced Primary opponents.

As has been the case this entire election cycle, Garcia again leaned heavily on corporate and organizational contributions. Between and including Aug. 24 and Oct. 7, just 14 people donated directly to her campaign.

Personal check values ranged from $25 to $10,000. Donors included former Miami-Dade County Republican Party Chair Nelson Diaz, who works as managing partner of The Southern Group’s Miami and Florida Keys offices, and personal injury lawyer Robert Rubenstein.

Her largest gains came thanks to Fighting for Florida’s Families, the political committee of House Speaker Pro Tempore Bryan Ávila, which gave $30,000. Ávila won the seat representing Senate District 39, formerly held by Education Commissioner Manny Díaz Jr., unopposed in June.

The political committees of state Reps. Colleen Burton of Lakeland and Clay Yarborough of Jacksonville gave $1,000 apiece.

Numerous unions and trade associations turned out for Garcia. The National Marine Manufacturers Association donated $5,000. The Florida Association of Realtors gave $3,000, and the Coalition of Affordable Housing Providers chipped in $2,500.

Garcia also accepted $1,000 from the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, Florida Internet & Television, Florida Home Builders Association, Florida Operators Association, Miami Fraternal Order of Police and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

From the health care sector, she received $3,000 from several political committees tied to for-profit hospital operator HCA Healthcare and $2,500 from the Florida Public Health Fund and Florida Behavioral Healthcare Association.

The Florida Medical Association, Doctors Company Florida, Florida Nurses PAC, Florida Physical Therapy Association and Better Florida Fund Corp., a political committee run by Venice-based otolaryngologist Michael Patete, each gave $1,000.

Other political committee-based donations included $6,000 from groups linked to Associated Industries of Florida, $5,000 from the lobbying arm of Capital City Consulting and $1,000 from Florida ACRE, whose Chair is Glades Electric Cooperative CEO Jeff Brewington.

Jacksonville-based consulting firm Indelible Solutions gave $5,000. Elevated LLC, a card room-related business, donated $1,000.

More than 80% of Garcia’s spending from Aug. 24 to Oct. 7 went to advertising. She paid Coral Gables-based company The Factor Inc. $69,000 for a host of services, including video production, radio advertising and production, and radio ad placements.

Spanish-language broadcasting giant Univision received more than $49,000, while the Miami-headquartered radio company, Spanish Broadcasting System, got $24,000.

Other radio-related expenditures included $14,000 paid to Caracol Broadcasting Inc. in Coral Gables and $11,000 paid to WWFE La Poderosa in Miami.

Garcia also paid $7,600 to Homestead-based video production company Otaca Media Productions, $7,500 to Coral Gables-based Enclave Digital LLC for social media management, email services and digital services, and more than $2,000 to South Miami-headquartered Miami’s Community Newspapers for advertising.

The remainder of her spending covered roughly $14,000 worth of consulting costs and $2,500 worth of campaign apparel, as well as office supplies, travel, food, donation processing, insurance, phone services, meeting space, utility fees and $2,800 in event admission and sponsorship fees with the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Pacheco — a local business owner and former Miami Beach Commission candidate who filed in June for the SD 36 race after Democratic Miami Beach Rep. Michael Grieco dropped out — raised $48,000 from Aug. 23 to Oct. 7.

She also spent $35,000 and received more than $15,000 worth of in-kind help from the Florida Democratic Party and Florida Democratic Legislative Committee for campaign staff, consulting and database subscription costs.

Exactly one month before the General Election, she held $85,000 between her campaign account and political committee, Defend Democracy PC.

Pacheco’s fundraising has been the antithesis of Garcia’s. In the 45 days since the Primary, more than 350 people donated to Pacheco’s campaign. Most gave less than $100.

She received just four organizational contributions and no corporate dollars. The Florida Leadership Council, a recently formed group of current and former elected officials, gave Pacheco $3,000.

Abortion-rights group Ruth’s List Florida and local chapters of the Teamsters and Communication Workers of America each gave $1,000.

The majority of Pacheco’s spending went to paraphernalia and voter outreach. She paid Miami-based gifts, souvenirs and novelties wholesaler Good Catch nearly $12,000 for “campaign materials.”

Coral Gables-based Slesnick Communications and Miami Beach-based Pineda Productions received $1,000 and $150, respectively, for unspecified advertising services. Switchboard Public Benefit Corp., a text messaging company based in Washington, received $200.

Pacheco also paid $8,000 for senior-specific voter outreach and another $5,000 for general outreach.

The rest went to fundraising fees, meetings, office supplies, food, parking, office space and event sponsorship.

SD 36 covers a center-east portion of Miami-Dade spanning the lower half of Miami Beach, a large portion of Miami, including the barrier island of Virginia Key, and parts of the cities of Coral Gables and Sweetwater.

Election Day is Nov. 8. Early voting runs from Oct. 24 through Nov. 6.

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.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704

Sign up for Sunburn