State Republicans investing in self-funded reality TV star’s HD 106 bid

Leonard Basabe
The contest for open seat representing Miami's wealthiest places pits Republican Fabian Basabe against Democrat Jordan Leonard.

A self-funded, reality TV star making his first bid for public office is drawing state Republican support in his race to represent House District 106, as he competes with a Democrat who’s been a fixture in local government.

New York tabloids dubbed Republican Fabian Basabe the “male Paris Hilton” in the 2000s, and now he’s a stay-at-home dad looking to represent one of the wealthiest House districts in the state. But winning this open seat means he’s going to have to get by Democrat Jordan Leonard, who was elected to the Bay Harbor Islands Town Council four times.

Basabe put $250,000 of his own money into his campaign kitty and, for most of the campaign, raised a negligible amount of outside money. For the stretch between Aug. 27 and Oct. 7, however, Basabe had his most active fundraising stretch for this election cycle, raising about $27,000.

Still, Leonard has received much more outside support than the Republican. In the same period, Leonard raised $8,000 more. And between his political committee, Americans for Florida and his personal account, Leonard raised about $200,000 more than Basabe added over the entire campaign.

Most of that money was spent before defeating a Primary opponent, though. And for the last stretch of the campaign, Leonard, who loaned his campaign $16,000, has $62,540 left. Basabe’s campaign, meanwhile, holds $145,000.

Since Basabe vanquished his two Republican rivals, he’s received $10,000 cash from the Florida House Republican Campaign Committee (FHRCC), plus in-kind photography services. That makes the FHRCC his biggest donor for the stretch between Aug. 27 and Oct. 7. The Republican Party of Florida also provided him with $14,000 worth of polling services in that period.

Not counting the Republicans, real estate interests gave Basabe the most of any single sector, chipping in more than $9,000.

Real estate and construction interests also accounted for Leonard’s largest share of donations — $12,500 of it. His largest donation, $5,000, came from One Kane Concourse LLC, a Miami real estate company. Another $5,000 came from unions.

In this latest stretch, Basabe vastly outspent Leonard. The star of the 2005 E! network show, “Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive” sent out $54,531 for the period that covers Aug. 27 to Oct. 7. Leonard spent $7,000 during the same period.

Basabe’s largest chunk of money —$15,500 — went to signs, direct mail, and palm card mailers and was split between Nationwide Payment Systems in Fort Lauderdale, Union Printing in Lauderhill and Charles Cohen Fine Art in New York City.

For campaign consulting, Basabe spent $3,800 with WinRight Digital in Mitchell, Indiana, $5,500 with AG305 in Miami Beach and $2,000 with Calatrava Strategies in Wilton Manors.

Another $10,000 was paid to a handful of people for “contract labor.” Leonard’s spending during this period largely went to consultants: $4,300 to Spotlight Strategies in Orlando and $1,700 to MDW Communications of Plantation, for providing Leonard’s campaign with collateral materials.

HD 106 takes in Miami-Dade County’s coast and includes all or part of the municipalities of Aventura, Bay Harbor Islands, Miami Beach, North Bay Village, North Miami Beach and Sunny Isles Beach.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


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