Over a dozen hopefuls have filed paperwork to replace retiring Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen in a Miami-based district that national Democrats hope to flip in 2018.
But six months after Ros-Lehtinen retired, the declared Democrats are soundly beating the Republicans in the money race.
Five Democrats have raised well over six figures in the latest fundraising quarter and a sixth has hauled in over $200,000 since the spring.
But zero Republicans have raised anything close to $100,000 in the latest quarter spanning July 1 to September 30.
Three Republicans have posted fundraising results that were publicly available on the Federal Election Commission's website on Sunday. Miami-Dade County commissioner Bruno Barreiro hauled in $41,950, former school board member and Miami-Dade mayoral candidate Raquel Regalado raised $15,050 and former Doral council member Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, who said that aliens took her on a spaceship, raised $4,990.
Regalado said in a statement posted to her Facebook page that she suspended her campaign just before Hurricane Irma hit South Florida. Irma made landfall on September 10, about six weeks after Regalado officially announced her bid.
"I made this decision knowing full well that all of the other candidates in this 2018 race would continue raising funds despite the challenges that we, our neighbors and fellow Floridians faced," Regalado said. "Rather than call and email my supporters for funds I decided to ask them to set this race aside and help our community recover." Regalado told the Miami Herald that she is fundraising this quarter.
"The issue is that I officially became a candidate a week before the hurricane hit and during the hurricane all i did was help people," Rodriguez Aguilera said. "I didn’t think that was the moment to really fundraise." Rodriguez Aguilera announced her candidacy about 10 days before Irma made landfall.
Barreiro, the only Republican who fundraised in the previous quarter, has just over $187,000 on hand for his campaign as of October 15. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A host of other Democrats and Republicans in South Florida suspended fundraising efforts due to Hurricane Irma, including Democrats running for Ros-Lehtinen's seat.
Seven Democrats are vying for the party’s nomination to the rare open seat: former state Judge Mary Barzee Flores, state Rep. David Richardson of Miami Beach, state Sen. José Javier Rodríguez of Miami, Miami Beach Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez, University of Miami academic adviser Michael Hepburn, Miami city commissioner Ken Russell and former Knight Foundation director Matt Haggman. All of them except Hepburn have raised over $100,000.
In contrast to the race for Ros-Lehtinen's seat, sitting Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo, who also represents a Democratic-leaning district in South Florida, raised $431,580 during the latest quarter. Miami Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who represents a more conservative district without a big-name Democratic challenger, raised $199,766 in the latest quarter.