Eileen Higgins raises $91K in month leadup to Miami-Dade Commission re-election bid
Image via Eileen Higgins.

Eileen Higgins
More than two-thirds came from real estate.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Eileen Higgins is currently unopposed for re-election next year, but she’s been fundraising as if she faces tough competition.

Since New Year’s Day, the incumbent Democrat has amassed more than $234,000 through her political committee, Rebranding Politics, to retain her District 5 seat on the technically nonpartisan County Commission.

Her biggest monthly haul this year was in June, when her PC took in $91,500.

She filed for re-election Monday.

More than two-thirds of Higgins’ fundraising last month came from real estate. Her biggest gain was a $15,000 infusion from MasTec, a Coral Gables-headquartered multinational infrastructure, engineering and construction company whose largest shareholder, Jorge Mas, is a principal owner of Miami’s Major League Soccer team and the planned stadium complex in the city called Miami Freedom Park.

R.G. Business Inc., owned by architect Rene Gonzalez, gave $10,000. Gonzalez is co-owner of the private transportation companies Limousines of South Florida and Transportation America to which Miami-Dade has outsources its transit services through repeated no-bid contracts since 2017 despite complaints among disabled riders of subpar service. As reported by Florida Bulldog, the Gonzalezes donated nearly $700,000 to local politicians between June 2012 and June 2022.

BH3 Management, a national real estate investment firm with an office in Fort Lauderdale, gave $10,000 too.

Coconut Grove-based developer Terra donated $5,000 through subsidiary companies, as did a campaign-donation arm of construction consulting company Atkins.

Princeton Land Investments LLC, a company tied to the Coral Gables law firm Korge & Korge, and a Miami real estate business owned by Simon Falic, CEO of airport shops operator Duty Free Americas, gave $5,000 as well.

She also received $5,000 from the Hard Rock Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins and Formula 1 Miami Grand Prix — all of which are owned by Stephen Ross, chair and founder of real estate mammoth Related Companies.

Jacobs, a Dallas-headquartered engineering group, gave $2,500.

Eight people gave directly to her PC. Her biggest personal check was a $5,000 donation from Peter Amaro, CEO of Master ConcessionAir, an airport store operator with more than 40 shops at Miami International Airport. The Miami-Dade Commission has broad powers over the contracting and regulations of the airport and its various business partners.

Lobbyists Les Pantin and Al Dotson, CEO and managing partner of Bilzin Sumberg, gave $2,500 each. Former state Senator and Miami-Dade Commissioner Miguel Díaz de la Portilla, a lawyer whose brother, Alex, is a Miami City Commissioner, chipped in $500.

Higgins also accepted a pair of $1,000 checks from husband and wife lawyers Tim and Kayla Riera-Gomez, the former of whom is the Miami branch director of Capital City Consulting, which separately gave $5,000.

Other contributions included $5,000 from Gogaco, a Miami-based billboard advertising company, and $1,000 from health insurer AvMed.

Higgins won her Miami-Dade Commission seat in a 2018 Special Election upset, outpacing her Republican opponent, Zoraida Barreiro, wife of former Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. She secured a full, four-year term on the county dais by 5 percentage points two years later.

Last year, she mounted an extremely brief run for Congress before pulling out to avoid a Primary clash with former state Sen. Annette Taddeo, who beat fellow Democrats Angel Montalvo and Ken Russell before ultimately losing to incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. María Elvira Salazar in the General Election.

A transportation policy wonk and public transit proponent, Higgins chairs the Miami-Dade Transportation, Mobility and Planning Committee. She has also led the county’s Metro Center Project, a $10 billion plan to redevelop dozens of acres around County Hall in downtown Miami into a taller, denser, more pedestrian-friendly metropolitan area with upward of 3,000 new affordable and workforce housing units near the county’s central transit hub.

District 5 covers the cities of Miami and Miami Beach, including the neighborhoods of Brickell, downtown Miami, Little Havana, Miami River, Mid Beach, The Roads, Shenandoah, Silver Bluff and West Flagler.

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


Editor’s note: This report was updated to provide more information about Rene Gonzalez.

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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