Last year, long before he became a congressional candidate running in a Democratic primary, Ken Russell attended a Miami fundraiser for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.
But he says he didn’t give the conservative Republican a dime.
At the time a newly elected city commissioner, Russell was among a small crowd that gathered at a South Miami Avenue home for a luncheon held to support Cruz, whose wife, Heidi Cruz, was the featured guest at the March 10 event. Attendees, who were asked to give a suggested $1,000-a-plate donation, grazed on a buffet outside on Lourdes and Leoncio de la Peña’s backyard terrace and listened to Heidi Cruz speak.
“He asked to come to my house. He wanted to meet Heidi,” said Lourdes Castillo de la Peña. “He told me how impressed he was with her when she spoke.”
Though Russell was a registered Democrat, no one thought twice about at a non-partisan city commissioner attending a Cruz fundraiser held in his district. But now that Russell is in the thick of a packed Democratic primary to replace Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen as the U.S. Representative for Florida’s left-leaning 27th Congressional District, his low-key presence at a fundraiser for a far-right conservative Senator from Texas could be something of a liability.
In an interview, Russell — who later that summer participated in the Democratic National Convention as a delegate —confirmed his attendance at the Cruz fundraiser. But he said he was merely interested in listening to the opinions of someone with whom he “vehemently disagrees.”
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