If fundraising indicates which local political contests will be most heated, then look no further than the race for Miami-Dade County Commission District 8.
Incumbent Lynda Bell, who represents South Miami-Dade, faces a challenge from first-time candidate Daniella Levine Cava, who has the backing of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party and other liberal-leaning groups.
In her first month as a candidate in January, Levine Cava outraised Bell. But the commissioner wasn't really campaigning. Now, she is. And the numbers show it.
Bell's campaign raised more than $130,000 in February, according to her consultant, Jose Luis Castillo. That's on top of the $25,000 she raked into her electioneering communications organization, Good Government Now, Castillo said.
"We had a great month," he said.
Levine Cava said she raised around $70,000, which is still a notable figure for a rookie candidate.
"People have really stepped up early to build the kind of support we need to run a good race," she said.
The numbers, which have not yet been published by the elections department, would bring Bell's total campaign cash to $330,000, plus about $80,000 in her ECO, and Levine Cava's total to nearly $210,000. Those totals don't take into account expenditures, so they're not a true measure of how much cash each candidate has on hand.
It's still early in the race. But if the two women keep up the pace, it looks like they could far outraise any other county commission, School Board, property appraiser or judge races this year. Stay tuned.