Joe Saunders adds $47K in Q4 toward HD 106 bid, vows to restore ‘shared values’
Image via Joe Saunders.

Joe Saunders
More than 150 people wrote checks to Saunders last quarter, most for $100 or less.

Democratic LGBTQ rights activist Joe Saunders raised more than $47,000 last quarter to unseat Republican Rep. Fabián Basabe in House District 106 this November.

As was the case in his prior round of fundraising, most of the former lawmaker’s gains came through small, grassroots donations.

He amassed close to $210,000 between his campaign account and political committee, Friends of Joe Saunders, since launching his campaign in May.

By New Year’s Day, he had $169,000 remaining.

“I am truly grateful for the incredible support we’ve received, and want to thank the more than 686 donors who have contributed to our campaign,” he said in a statement.

“Residents in House District 106 are ready for their government to represent them and deliver results — that’s why our grassroots campaign has gained so much momentum. Together, we’re going to win in 2024 and bring our shared values back to the Florida Capitol.”

More than 150 people wrote checks to Saunders in Q4, most for $100 or less. Todd Delmay, a 2022 candidate for the House who in September became Executive Director of LGBTQ advocacy group SAVE, gave Saunders $250.

Saunders’ largest gain came from his Tampa-headquartered employer, Equality Florida, whose political donations arm chipped in $10,000 to the campaign. For nearly a decade, Saunders has worked as political director for the statewide nonprofit dedicated to securing equal rights for LGBTQ people.

Floridians for Equality, the affiliated political committee of former Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, gave Saunders $2,500. Smith, who lost his House seat in a 2022 upset, is now running to succeed term-limited Orlando Democratic Sen. Linda Stewart.

Saunders spent more than $11,000 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31, almost all of it on consulting. He paid $5,100 for retainer fees and digital advertising consulting to Plantation-based MDW Communications. Another $5,000 went to EDGE Communications in Miami for general consulting services.

The rest covered marketing, travel and lodging expenses.

Basabe, meanwhile, appears to have taken things easier in Q4 after giving his campaign a $250,000 loan in August.

He raised just $13,000 in the last quarter of the year, inclusive of a $5,000 infusion from his bank account, and spent about the same amount. That left him with $251,000 between his campaign account and political committee, Common Sense for Florida, by Jan. 1.

Twenty-two people donated to Basabe in Q4 through checks of between $50 and $500. He also accepted $2,500 from the Florida Veterinary Medical Association and $1,000 apiece from a Miami-Dade County firefighters union and Miami-based legal and lobbying firm Akerman.

The preponderance of Basabe’s Q4 spending, $9,000, went to Think Right PR, a conservative Fort Lauderdale public relations firm Basabe hired last quarter to handle some of his public messaging.

Saunders, who previously represented parts of Central Florida in the House from 2012-2014, filed to run for HD 106 on May 1. He cited as reasons Basabe’s votes for restricting LGBTQ-inclusive instruction in public schools, cracking down on exposing minors to “lewd” live shows, repealing a post-Parkland ban on under-21 long rifle purchases and abstaining from voting on a since-passed measure to prohibit abortion after six weeks of gestation.

Equality Florida, SAVE and other LGBTQ rights groups have since heckled Basabe at public events and called for his resignation. Saunders helped lead a protest outside Basabe’s North Bay Village office.

Basabe, who won his seat in a major upset in November 2022, maintains he’s been unduly maligned and has worked to improve the well-being of LGBTQ people in Florida. He said he worked behind the scenes to soften the language of the state’s parental rights law dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay” law by critics. For the 2024 Legislative Session, he filed legislation that would put a question on the ballot asking voters to codify same-sex marriage rights in the Florida Constitution.

He also filed, but then withdrew, a proposal giving women in Florida a 12-week window to terminate their pregnancies. Florida’s threshold now is 15 weeks, pending a Florida Supreme Court ruling on the six-week ban.

HD 106 covers a northeastern portion of Miami-Dade, including 10 coastal municipalities from Fisher Island and South Beach to Aventura and Sunny Isles Beach. It is one of the most affluent districts in the state and among the most susceptible to the oceanic effects of climate change.

The Primary Election is on Aug. 20, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5. So far, only Basabe and Saunders are running for the HD 106 seat.

Candidates faced a Wednesday deadline to report all campaign finance activity through Dec. 31.

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.

One comment

  • Julia

    January 11, 2024 at 7:08 pm

    Make $280 per hour. The hiring procedure is not easy. In any case, a plethora of tools are at your disposal to support your preferred method of working. Get motivated to post job openings for hundreds of vacancies on job boards and employment portals.

    Take a look at this………………………………….

Comments are closed.


Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Drew Dixon, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Cole Pepper, Gray Rohrer, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Drew Wilson, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704