Miami-Dade mayoral hopeful Raquel Regalado raised less than $50,000 in her debut campaign report, but she's touting a string of tiny donor checks as proof of her grass-roots appeal.
The two-term school board member reported a March fund-raising total of $48,310 for her campaign committee, less than 10 percent of the $500,000 that incumbent Carlos Gimenez raised in his debut fund-raising report in January. Regalado joined the race March 9, and has said she needs to raise $2 million to compete against Mayor Gimenez in the 2016 race.
In an interview, Regalado pointed to the 15 five-dollar checks and 19 ten-dollar checks that added to her March total. She said individual donors mailed her checks, and gave them to people who they knew were close to her.
"Obviously my fund-raising is very different from his fund-raising," Regalado said of Gimenez. "He's raising money from people who have business with the county... But I think the smaller checks say a lot about where the votes are going to be."
Gimenez is soliciting donations through a political committee, Miami-Dade Residents First, which isn't governed by the $1,000-per-donor cap that is the rule for a campaign committee like Regalado's. Miami-Dade Residents First hasn't filed its March report yet, but it raised about $672,000 through February. That includes $20,000 from Coastal Construction, at least $16,000 from the Bilzin Sumberg law firm, and $15,000 from Regent Cruises.
Regalado's father is the mayor of Miami, Tomás Regalado, and her campaign report includes some prominent names from the city's business circles.
Norman Braman, the Miami auto magnate and civic activist who has publicly endorsed Regalado's challenge against Gimenez, donated $11,000 through a series of corporations tied to him, according to a Naked Politics analysis of campaign reports. That made him Regalado's top donor.
The Melo family, prominent developers in Miami, gave $10,000 through corporate entities and individual gifts. Stephen Kneapler, a former owner of Monty's in Coconut Grove who sued Miami to block a commercial complex on the Grove waterfront, gave $5,000 in a similar manner.
Regalado said she will be using an existing political committee that she and her father have used in past campaigns to solicit larger donations. That committee, Serving Miamians, did not show any March contributions as of Wednesday evening.
Gimenez took office in 2011 after winning a special election to fill out the term of recalled mayor Carlos Alvarez. Gimenez won a full term in 2012, and now is running for a second four-year term.
Asked for comment Wednesday, Gimenez finance chair Ralph Garcia-Toledo said in a statement: "I have no interest in speaking about the fundraising report of Mayor Regalado's daughter."