Alina Garcia charges into Miami-Dade Supervisor of Elections race with $165K haul

alina garcia
Her closest fundraising competitor last quarter was Republican lawyer Megan Pearl.

Miami Republican Rep. Alina Garcia landed with a boom last quarter in the race for Miami-Dade County Supervisor of Elections, stacking $165,000 in less than a month and a half thanks to ample GOP support.

She collected close to $126,000 through her campaign account, more than half of which were carry-over funds from her now-closed state account. Another $39,000 came through her political committee, Florida Always First.

Her closest fundraising competitor in the first quarter of 2024 was lawyer Megan Pearl, who also entered the race in February and amassed $9,000 through March 31.

Former state lawmaker Juan-Carlos “J.C.” Planas, a Republican-turned-Democrat, raised nearly $10,000, while Democratic consultant Willis Howard added almost $7,000 to his campaign coffers.

Ruth Swanson, a 2020 election denier who in 2022 mounted an unsuccessful Primary challenge against Republican U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez, dropped out of the race late last month.

More than 40 people gave directly to Garcia last month. She took $2,000 from Javi Correoso, the director of public policy and communications for Uber, and $1,000 checks from Jacksonville Rep. Dean Black and former Miami Commissioner Humberto “Bert” Hernandez.

Moises Benhabib, an ex-foreign affairs officer now running to succeed Garcia in House District 115, chipped in $250.

Garcia received $13,000 from PCs controlled by incoming House Speaker Daniel Perez and $6,000 from the PC of Miami Sen. Alexis Calatayud. She also took $1,000 apiece from the PCs of Clearwater Rep. Kim Berfield, Miami Lakes Rep. Tom Fabricio, Miami-Dade Commissioner Anthony Rodriguez, Hialeah Mayor Esteban “Steve” Bovo and former Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.

Hialeah Rep. Alex Rizo’s PC, Principled Moral Conservatism, gave $500.

Lobbyist Ron Book’s firm gave Garcia $5,000, as did a handful of Insurance Nation subsidiaries.

Maximo Alvarez, the politically well-connected owner of Miami-based Sunshine Gasoline Distributors, donated $3,000. Construction company The Corradino Group, owned and operated by Pinecrest Mayor Joseph Corradino, gave $500.

Garcia spent just over $900, all of it on donation-processing fees.

Pearl, a former law clerk with the 11th Judicial Circuit and active member of the GOP, received 27 personal checks, some as low as $25, between Feb. 8 and the end of March. Her average donation was $337.

She made a $1,000 self-loan. Three of five other maxed-out checks her campaign took came from people with the last name Pearl.

All $100 she spent covered donation fees.

Planas added $7,600 to his campaign account and $2,000 to his PC, Protecting the Right to Vote in Miami-Dade County.

He also spent more than $21,000, the preponderance of it on consulting services.

Twenty-two people sent him personal checks in Q1, some as low as $5. Auto dealership magnate George Williamson II gave $1,000.

Planas also accepted $4,000 from four subsidiaries of Florida Value Partners, a Miami Lakes-based real estate development firm, and $1,000 from two subsidiaries of The Lopez Companies, a commercial real estate company headquartered in Hialeah.

He paid $12,000 to Landslide Campaigns, a South Miami consulting firm. Democratic consultant Christian Ulvert’s EDGE Communications received $3,000, while Miami Shores-based GW Consulting got $2,500.

Planas also spent $150 on advertising with the Dade County Alumnae Chapter of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. The rest went to voter outreach, voter data access, checks, web fees, event tickets, and bank and donation-processing fees.

As of April 1, he held just short of $26,000 in campaign cash. An unaffiliated PC called Friends of JC Planas, which is supporting his campaign, still holds all of the $500,000 that mortgage loan originator Eduardo Fernandez gave to it in September.

Howard, a well-established political player in Miami-Dade who worked as the strategic consultant for Andrew Gillum’s gubernatorial campaign in 2018, entered the second quarter with more than $41,000 left to spend.

But family issues slowed his progress in Q1. Willis told Florida Politics on Thursday that his sister’s declining health prompted him to postpone active fundraising so that he could relocate her from Tampa to Miami and spend more time with her. She died Tuesday.

Howard buoyed his campaign last quarter with a $5,000 self-loan. He also received eight personal checks ranging from $25 to $250. His largest outside contribution was $750 from the Law Office of Robert Holland.

He paid $1,800 to Miami Gardens-based Accurate Business Systems for “printed materials.”

Howard said that while other candidates may have more cash on hand, his campaign is more agile and earnest.

He maintained he is the only authentic Democrat in the race. Planas switched parties following Donald Trump’s attacks on voter rights and lies that the 2020 Presidential Election was rigged.

This is the first election for Miami-Dade Supervisor in decades. The position has long been an appointed one. Current Supervisor Christina White, declined to run to keep her job.

Candidates faced a Wednesday deadline to report all campaign finance activities through March 31.

The Primary Election is on Aug. 20, followed by the General Election on Nov. 5.

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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