Janelle Perez adds $369K in post-Primary fundraising push for SD 38

Janelle Perez
As of the latest fundraising report, she’s $5K shy of having raised $1M this election cycle.

Democratic local business owner Janelle Perez stacked nearly $369,000 in the 45 days following the Primary Election. Most of the money came through grassroots fundraising, nonprofits and law firms.

She also spent more than $753,000, though most of the money went to the Florida Democratic Party, which in turn provided her with $27,500 worth of in-kind aid for staff, fundraising and consulting costs.

Exactly one month from Election Day, Perez had $107,000 left to spend between her campaign account and political committee, Democracy and Freedom. She’s $5,000 shy of having raised $1 million since announcing her candidacy for elected office in August 2021.

Her Republican opponent, Alexis Calatayud, had about $77,000 after collecting two-thirds of what Perez raised and spending less than half of what Perez spent.

Neither candidate faced a Primary challenger ahead of November’s General Election.

Around 450 people donated to Perez between and including Aug. 24 and Oct. 7. Personal checks ranged from $1 and $1,000.

Her biggest contribution was a $50,000 check from the Florida Education Association. Its Miami-Dade County affiliate, United Teachers of Dade, gave $4,000.

The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees — the largest trade union of public employees in the nation — gave $20,000.

Perez enjoyed ample support from law and lobbying firms. Searcy Denney Scarola Barnhart & Shipley and Lytal Reiter Smith Ivey & Fronrath — both based in West Palm Beach — and Pensacola-based Levin Papantonio Rafferty each donated $25,000.

West Palm Beach-based Justus Reid & Associates gave $17,000, while the Kelley Uustal Law Firm of Fort Lauderdale chipped in $15,000.

Liberman Cabrera Thompson & Reitman of Palm Beach Gardens, Romano Law of West Palm Beach, Terrell Hogan Yegelwel of Jacksonville and The Haggard Law Firm in Coral Gables each donated $10,000.

The Hickey Law Firm in Miami gave $8,500, while Wagner McLaughlin gave $7,500.

Miami Democratic Sen. Jason Pizzo, a lawyer in private life, also gave Perez $10,000 through his political committee, New Opportunity Florida.

Aside from $600,000 in contributions to her political party, Perez’s spending centered largely on advertising.

She paid Plantation-based MDW Communications $81,000 for emails and digital ads. Another $47,000 covered unspecified ad services by Miami-based Edge Communications whose principal, Christian Ulvert, Chairs Perez’s political committee.

Perez also paid $8,000 for various campaign materials, including door hangers and signs. Most of the money went to Good Catch, a gifts, souvenirs and novelties wholesaler in Miami.

The remainder of Perez’s spending covered outreach, travel, food, voter access, furniture and map files.

Calatayud, a former GOP staffer and past director of public policy and programs at the Florida Department of Education, amassed $240,000 between her campaign account and political committee between Aug. 24 and Oct. 7.

She’s raised $540,000 since launching her bid for state office in March. As of Oct. 8, she had just over $77,000 remaining.

More than 45 people gave to Calatayud in the 45 days after the Primary, none for less than $100. Richard Stacey, who owns and operates numerous health care-based businesses throughout South Florida, gave $10,000.

The Republican Party of Miami-Dade County kicked in $22,000. House Speaker Pro Tempore Bryan Ávila gave $30,000 through his political committee. Sen. Kathleen Passidomo, Rep. Jay Trumbull and former U.S. Ambassador John Rood gave $10,000, $6,000 and $5,000 through their respective political committees.

Coalition for Better Care PC gave $10,000. A Stronger Florida, a political committee run by Rubin Turnbull and Associates Director of Operations Celeste Camm, donated $6,000.

Calatayud also accepted $5,000 from ABC Liquors, Associated Industries of Florida, United Faculty of Miami Dade College, the Florida Transportation Builders Association, Florida Chamber of Commerce and Safe Affordable Florida Education PAC.

She spent close to $345,000 and received $179,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee for research, staff, polling, fundraising, consulting and phone costs.

More than half her spending — $158,000 — went to Coral Gables-based Miranda Advocacy for direct mail, voter outreach, consulting, web, video production and editing, yard signs and other advertising costs.

She also paid Maryland-based Mentzer Media Service more than $30,000 for a “media buy” and spent another $12,000 on consulting services from Tallahassee-based Taylor Strategies.

The rest covered accounting costs, staffing, office rent, bank charges and apparel.

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.

The race for the empty seat representing the district has turned increasingly nasty. As Florida Politics reported Monday, Perez complained of text messages sent on behalf of Calatayud’s campaign that revealed Perez’s personal — but publicly available — phone number. Perez said she received death threats as a result. The Pinecrest Police Department confirmed it is investigating those calls.

But Calatayud’s campaign said parties working on Perez’s behalf are guilty of doing exactly the same thing and shared a text purportedly sent last week that shared Calatayud’s personal — and also publicly available — phone number.

Neither candidate has served in an elected role before.

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.


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