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Miami-Dade mayor heads into summer with nearly $3 million campaign war chest


Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has raised nearly $4 million for his reelection campaign, and still has about $2.9 million to spend. 

The incumbent faces his first vote in the Aug. 30 primary, where challenger Raquel Regalado hopes strong support among Cuban-Americans will give her an upset over fellow Republican Gimenez in the non-partisan contest.

A Miami Herald poll last month showed a 10-point gap among likely voters, which was tight enough that Gimenez's camp used the results to ask donors to step up with more help, according to campaign insiders. The May fund-raising results released  Friday showed Gimenez's political committee, Miami-Dade Residents First, having its best month of the year, with a $91,000 haul.

More than a third of that came from MasTec, a Coral Gables-based company that specializes in government infrastructure projects, which gave $35,000. In addition to the committee's donations, Gimenez's actual campaign raised $77,000, for a May total of roughly $170,000. 

Gimenez holds a commanding fund-raising edge over Regalado, who is a two-term school board member and the daughter of Miami Mayor Tomás Regalado. Regalado enters the summer campaign with nearly $300,000 to spend, after raising about $1.3 million. She raised about $32,000 in May through her campaign and political committee, Serving Miamians. 

Allies of Gimenez have privately complained about his campaign sitting on so much cash with less than 90 days to go before the primary. But a top insider told Naked Politics the campaign sees little use in spending early, when so few would-be voters are paying attention to countywide races. 

There are now eight candidates running for Miami-Dade mayor, thanks to the recent entry of Farid Khavari,a MIami author and economist who gained some attention when he ran for Florida governor in 2010 and 2014. His Twitter feed shows an interest in environmental concerns at the Turkey Point nuclear plant, and Khavari told Naked Politics he is running because "I think I can fix the economy and the environment. I am an expert." 

Of the eight mayoral hopefuls, only three have raised more than $2,000: Gimenez, Regalado and newcomer Alfredo Santamaría. The one-time staffer for former Congressman David Rivera has raised about $141,000 for his first-time run for elected office. But he's also spent almost all of it, leaving a war chest of less than $2,000, according to campaign-finance reports. In May, Santamaría raised about $9,900 for his campaign and political committee, New Leadership. 

If no candidate receives 50 percent of the primary vote, the top vote getters will move on to a November run-off on Election Day.