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Miami-Dade mayor extends lead in fund-raising chase with challenger


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez maintained his large fund-raising lead against challenger Raquel Regalado in November, collecting about $173,000 compared to her $65,000. 

Gimenez has easily outpaced Regalado on the money front so far. Before November's reports were filed, Gimenez had raised $2.8 million, compared to $510,000 for Regalado, who is the daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado

Gimenez's top donor in November was a company tied to Leon Medical Centers, a top healthcare provider in Miami-Dade. The company, Leon Advertising, gave $42,000 to an Gimenez political committee -- the second-largest check given to Gimenez's reelection effort this year. (The largest was a $55,000 check from the Turnberry development firm in October.) 

Miami-Dade's chain of Executive Fantasy Hotels ended up tied with auto magnate Norman Braman to be Regalado's top donor in November. 

On its website, the string of 10 hotels in the area around Hialeah and Miami International Airport  touts champagne-glass jacuzzis, private garage parking, hourly rates and "patented love chairs." Executive Fantasy, a Puerto Rico-based company of owner Julio del Rey, gave $25,000 to a Regalado political committee. Regalado said she and her father have known the del Rey family for years. 

Braman, already Regalado's top donor, also gave $25,000 in November.   

"I have to raise money from people who don't have business before the county," Regalado said Thursday. "Because the people who do have business before the county are scared of retaliation." 

Jesse Manzano-Plaza, a consultant for Gimenez's reelection effort, issued a statement in response that said in part: "Our opponent's inability to get traction with both voters and donors speaks volumes to her credibility, vision and experience to hold the office of County Mayor..." Manzano-Plaza also accused Regalado of relying on donors doing business with the city of Miami who "are giving to her campaign out of fear of retaliation from her father." 

The Executive Fantasy donation helped give Serving Miamians, the Regalado political committee, its second-best month of the campaign, with a total of $63,000 raised. But the account for her actual campaign only recorded about $2,000 in donations, the worst since she joined the race in March. 

Gimenez raised $93,500 in November for his political committee, Miami-Dade Residents First, which was also the entity's worst month yet. His campaign, which only launched in October, took in about $79,000 in November, compared to $781,000 in October.