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UPDATED Miami-Dade commission challenger raises $140k in first month of campaign


A challenger to Miami-Dade County Commissioner Lynda Bell posted robust fundraising totals Monday in her first month of campaigning.

Daniella Levine Cava, who is running for Commission District 8, raised more than $144,000 between Jan. 3 and Jan. 31, according to a finance report filed with the Miami-Dade elections department. About $4,000 was money Levine Cava loaned to herself.

Political donors often look to a candidate's first fundraising report to determine how serious the contender is taking the election, and whether his or her race appears viable.

"I'm feeling very positive, very optimistic. I'm really enjoying the opportunity to meet with people and learn about the issues in the district," said Levine Cava, a first-time candidate. "Mostly what we've done is introduce myself to the voters."

Among the contributions she received were several from current or former Democratic elected officials, including Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner, Miami state Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, former Florida CFO and now Tampa Bay-area congressional candidate Alex Sink, and former County Commissioner Katy Sorenson. Though the commission race is non-partisan, Levine Cava is a Democrat and Bell is a Republican.

Levine Cava's fundraising still lags behind Bell's, who as of Dec. 31 had raked in more than $183,000.

Bell said late Monday that she didn't know her fundraising total. "We just got cranking in February, after the holidays," she said.

Still, the race appears far more competitive than the other two contested commission elections.

Under new a new state campaign-finance law that went into effect last year, local candidates must report fundraising totals every month, instead of every quarter. They can also accept individual contributions of up to $1,000, twice as much as they could before.

UPDATE: Bell's fundraising report has been posted. She has more than $204,000 in her campaign account, raising about $21,000 in January.