Dem, GOP candidates in HD 118 Special Election post high 5-figure gains in Q3

Mike Redondo Johnny Farias SBS
Both have the support of their respective state parties, but only one enjoyed help from his party last quarter.

Two candidates in a Special Election for the open seat representing House District 118 amassed high five-figure sums in the third quarter of 2023.

With Election Day a little more than a month away, it’s crunch time for Democratic former Miami-Dade Community Council member Johnny Farias and Republican lawyer Mike Redondo.

Both have the support of their respective state parties, but only one enjoyed help from his party in Q3.

Redondo, a first-time candidate for public office, raised about $96,000 between July 1 and Sept. 30 between his campaign account and political committee, The Right Path for Florida.

He also received about $63,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Florida GOP for research, political consulting, campaign staff, media production and polling.

His financial gains came through a blend of contributions from elected Republicans, real estate businesses, government relations firms and other businesses.

Nearly 40 people wrote him checks as well. Lobbyist Max Losner, Secretary of the Miami-Dade GOP and the son of Homestead Mayor Steven Losner, gave Redondo $1,000. Real estate magnate Rogelio Tovar did the same and kicked in another $2,000 through companies he owns.

Lawyer Daniel Díaz-Balart, the son of former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Díaz-Balart and nephew of current U.S. Rep. Mario Díaz-Balart, gave $500. Aventura lobbyist Ron Book gave the same sum directly, plus another $1,000 through his eponymous firm.

Redondo received substantial political support last quarter.

House Speaker-designate Daniel Perez of Miami, who endorsed Redondo in June, donated $3,000 through two political committees (PCs) he runs.

Republican state Reps. Shane Abbott, Adam Botana, James Buchanan, Jennifer Canady, Wyman Duggan, Tiffany Esposito, Sam Garrison, Mike Giallombardo, Tommy Gregory, Traci Koster, Randy Maggard, Scott Plakon, Spencer Roach, Will Robinson, Michelle Salzman, Jason Shoaf, John Snyder, Josie Tomkow, Keith Truenow, Taylor Yarkosky and Brad Yeager each chipped in $1,000.

So did Miami-Dade School Board member Monica Colucci and former State Board of Education member and Highlands County School Board Chair Andy Tuck.

Broward County School Board Chair Torey Alston gave $500.

Numerous lobbying firms turned out with $1,000 checks, including the Capital Partners, Continental Strategy, Flagler Strategies, Florida Partners, Johnson & Stewart Government Strategies, McGuireWoods, Smith Bryan & Myers Inc. and the Southern Group.

From the construction and real estate sector, Redondo got $3,000 from Doral-based property holdings company Sunshine Dade Investment and two related companies owned by Maximo Alvarez, President of Sunshine Gasoline Distributors and a frequent supporter of South Florida conservative candidates.

Redondo got $1,000 from the Florida Homebuilders Association, Florida Apartment Association, West Palm Beach-based cement company Cemex Materials and Universal Orlando Resort.

From the health care industry, he took $2,000 from PCs linked to the Florida Optometric Association, $2,000 from for-profit hospital company HCA Healthcare and $1,000 from the Florida Chiropractic Coalition.

U.S. Sugar Corp. gave $4,000. A Stronger Florida, a PC chaired by Rubin Turnbull and Associates Director of Operations Celeste Camm, gave $3,500. The firm’s managing partner, Heather Turnbull, contributed $1,000 more.

Prior to its closure in March 2017, an identically named PC operated under the chairmanship of Stephen Ross, the Chair and majority owner of global real estate development firm The Related Companies. Ross is also the principal owner of the Miami Dolphins and the NFL team’s home arena, Hard Rock Stadium, which among other things hosts the Formula One Miami Grand Prix, which Ross owns too.

Redondo also received $1,000 from Comcast Corp., ABC Liquors, Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits and the Dade County Police Benevolent Association.

He spent $57,000 in Q3. Eighty-three percent of that, $47,190, went to Miami-based public affairs firm Marin and Sons for consulting, voter outreach and yard sign costs.

The rest covered legal, accounting, bank and qualifying fees.

Since filing to run for HD 118 in June 19, Redondo has raised nearly $164,000, including more than $71,000 in his first 12 days campaigning. Of that, he had about $108,000 remaining by the end of last month.

Farias collected more than $76,000 through his campaign account since filing to run Aug. 3. He spent about $15,500 of that, leaving himself with $61,000 going into the HD 118 race’s home stretch.

Late last month, Farias nabbed an endorsement from the Florida Democratic Party. It marked the first time in four campaigns that he’s mounted for public office — two for HD 118, including the current run — that he received a nod from the state party.

But his Q3 financial reports show that the endorsement didn’t come with any monetary or in-kind help last quarter. Farias listed no donations or assistance from the Florida Democratic Party through Sept. 30.

He gave the party $1,000.

He told Florida Politics on Thursday that the party has since stepped up its game, providing phone banking, texting, email and mailer support that together is saving him “tens of thousands of dollars.”

“They’re not giving me money,” he said. “They’re doing the work, and I know it’s working because I’m getting phone calls and texts about it.”

He said some of the aid will be reflected in future financial reporting by his political committee, Friends of Farias, which showed no activity in Q3.

Farias received roughly 250 personal checks. Family members gave him $3,415. Susan Khoury, a former federal agent now running to become Miami-Dade County’s first woman Sheriff, donated $100. Former state Rep. Dwight Bullard, who now works as a senior adviser to Florida Rising, contributed $50.

An electrician by trade, Farias accordingly received numerous donations from people and companies in the construction industry. He accepted $2,000 apiece from Electric Masters Inc. and Contierra Engineering Contractors, both based in Miami.

South Florida-based Speed Construction, U.S. Construction, The MAC Group, EYC Enterprise, Spellbound Homes, E&J Ayala Services, Edgewater Construction and Daybreak Design-Build all gave $1,000 apiece.

Benton-based Hydroflow Plumbing contributed the same. The company’s owner, Lewis DePriest, gave another $1,000.

Close to a third of Farias’ spending covered consulting services. That included $4,500 he paid to Miami-based MEA Global PR, $2,500 to consultant Manuel Gutierrez and $2,000 to Miami Gardens-based McClune Group.

He also spent $1,500 on mailers and $150 on a “texting program.” The rest paid for a qualifying fee, voter information, supplies, fundraising costs and a website.

The third candidate in the race, Frank De La Paz, is an independent former builder and Community Council member who told Local 10 in August that he planned to spend about $10,000 on his campaign.

He filed the same day as Farias but reported no fundraising or spending in Q3.

On July 20, Gov. Ron DeSantis called a Special Election to fill the HD 118 seat former Republican Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin vacated.

Fernandez-Barquin departed from the House after DeSantis appointed him to serve as Miami-Dade Clerk and Comptroller following the death of longtime Clerk Harvey Ruvin.

HD 118 spans a narrow, unincorporated strip of Miami-Dade west of Florida’s Turnpike encompassing the neighborhoods of Goulds, Kendall, Perrine, South Miami Heights, Sunset and Westchester.

Since only one candidate from each party is running, there will be no Primary Election. The General Election is on Dec. 15.

Candidates faced an Oct. 10 deadline to report all campaign finance activity through Sept. 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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