Daniella Levine Cava adds $285K to re-election bid as GOP challenger makes grassroots gains
Image via Jesse Scheckner.

JLevine Cava Que Calor Jesse Scheckner
She now holds nearly 26 times more campaign cash than her 2 opponents combined.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava amassed more than $285,000 in June to defend her job as the county’s chief executive against two challengers.

One is a fellow Democrat who hasn’t added anything to his coffers since filing to run in March.

The other, a Republican influencer with ties to political operative and Donald Trump ally Roger Stone, collected more than 3,400 grassroots donations last month.

As of June 30, Levine Cava had more than $2 million in reserves between her campaign account and political committee, Our Democracy.

That’s thanks, in part, to about 170 personal checks she received. Noteworthy donations included $20,500 from Miguel B. Fernandez, chair of private equity firm MBF Healthcare Partners; $4,000 from Shen Yang, president of CTS Engineering, a Florida transportation design, engineering and planning company; and $2,500 from Fred Wright of WRT World Enterprises, a shipping, logistics and supply chain business in Medley.

Levine Cava’s largest single contribution was $50,000 from a limited liability company called KPI, which is listed on the Mayor’s ledger as an information technology business based in Davie. The Florida Division of Corporations names South Florida commercial real estate investor Austin Forman among the company’s principals.

Several other real estate-related businesses gave too. Coastal Construction donated $15,000, as did fellow Miami-based company Reyes Granite & Marble through three subsidiaries. Coral Gables-based Beauchamp Construction Co. gave $5,000.

Delray Beach-based construction engineering company Pacifica Engineering Services, Miami-headquartered Paramount Consulting & Engineering and ARC Private Provider Services each gave $2,500.

The remainder of Levine Cava’s corporate and organizational gains came from a variety of sectors. Amscot Corp., a Tampa-based check-cashing and advance paycheck chain, donated $25,000. Americas Transportation, an Orlando-headquartered bus vendor that does business with Miami-Dade, gave $10,000.

So did two unions: 32BJ United ADF, a chapter of Service Employees International Union, and Teamsters Local No. 769.

Miami public relations firm Mata Consulting contributed $5,000. Law firms Greenberg Traurig and Bilzin Sumberg gave $5,000 and $2,500, respectively.

Levine Cava spent roughly $72,000 in June. More than half went to companies owned by Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert, the Mayor’s senior campaign adviser and chief strategist, for outreach, consulting and staff services.

She also paid $20,000 to her finance director, Greg Goddard, and $5,000 to her Communications Director, Claire VanSusteren.

Another $5,000 went to the Florida Women’s Freedom Coalition, a reproductive rights group in Miami, as a donation.

The remainder of Levine Cava’s spending covered general upkeep, staff reimbursements and donation processing fees.

Coming in at a distant second place in fundraising last month with a $30,000 haul was Alex Otaola, a Cuba-born YouTuber and conservative political activist who hosts the popular web show “Hola Ota-Ota!”

Otaola’s donations came almost exclusively through personal contributions of $25 or less. Forty-two percent of the more than 3,400 donations he received were for just $1, though many donors gave multiple times.

Of note, close to half of the contributions he received came from outside Miami-Dade County.

Otaola accepted one corporate contribution, a $1,000 check from Plantation-based Cano Builders USA. The company’s owner, Jose Hernandez, chipped in $1,000 directly as well.

Otaola’s $5,600 in spending last month went mostly toward buying campaign T-shirts and yard signs. He also paid $1,000 to his campaign treasurer, Andy Santana, and spent about $900 on marketing and consulting.

As of June 30, Otaola held about $77,000.

An electioneering communications organization (ECO) working on Otaola’s behalf called Miami-Dade a Communist Free Zone collected just $86 through the end of last month, when it had about $5,000 left of $33,000 raised since its March 15 formation.

It spent more than $13,000 in June, nearly all of it on consulting payments to Drake Ventures, a Delaware-registered company Roger Stone and his wife, Nydia, co-own.

The ECO’s Chair, Leon Luis, also paid himself $1,000.

Luis told Florida Politics last month Otaola is the only candidate in Miami-Dade his organization is backing. He cited Otaola’s anti-communism agenda as key.

“As Mayor, he will dig in, investigate and stop all the businesses in South Florida and especially Miami-Dade that are supported or financed by communist regimes such as Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua,” he said. “And he will prevent the communist agenda from getting into the education system and indoctrinating our students.”

Also running is a Democratic trapeze artist and self-described First Amendment auditor named Miguel “el Skipper” Quintero.

Quintero gave $1,000 to his campaign at the onset of his campaign in March through his home-based circus company, Miami Artisan Village. He has yet to report any fundraising or spending since.

The Miami-Dade Mayor job is a technically nonpartisan office. As such, Levine Cava, Otaola, Quintero and whoever else files and qualifies for the race by June 11, 2024, will all appear together on the August Primary ballot.

If no candidate secures more than half the vote to win outright, the two top vote-earners will compete in a Nov. 5, 2024, runoff.

Candidates faced a Monday deadline to report all campaign finance activity through June 30.

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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