The Republican primary for retiring Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's seat is a month away, but Rep. Carlos Curbelo isn't waiting for the general election to throw his support behind Maria Elvira Salazar.
Curbelo's leadership PAC, What a Country! PAC, sent $2,500 to Salazar's campaign at the end of June, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Leadership PACs are vehicles for members of Congress to show financial support for other lawmakers and candidates, and they are allowed to donate up to $5,000 to a given candidate during each election cycle.
"The people of Florida's 27th District made history nearly three decades ago by electing the first-ever Hispanic woman to serve in Congress," Curbelo spokesperson Joanna Rodriguez said in an email. "The Congressman hopes the people of FL-27 will continue that tradition in November."
Salazar is the front-runner for the Republican nomination, according to multiple polls. The broadcast journalist leads the GOP field in money raised despite entering later than her top contender, county commissioner Bruno Barreiro.
Whoever ends up being the Republican nominee will have the challenge of trying to maintain GOP control of a district that voted for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump by more than 19 percentage points in 2016. Democrats are optimistic that they can flip seat in November, even though none of the Democrats running in the primary are Hispanic in a majority-Hispanic district. Multiple election prognosticators rate the seat as "lean Democratic."
Curbelo's leadership PAC has nearly doubled its activity from the 2016 cycle so far this year. What a Country! has donated $97,500 to 40 different lawmakers and candidates this cycle, all of whom are Republicans. In the past, Curbelo's PAC has donated to Republicans who did not share the congressman's views on immigration and 13 Republicans who received money from What a Country! did not sign Curbelo's discharge petition to force a series of immigration votes and voted against an all-GOP compromise immigration bill last month.
Curbelo has said that his leadership PAC serves as a vehicle to help Republican lawmakers and candidates who want to overhaul the nation's immigration laws while securing the border. Salazar, like Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen, has spoken out in favor of changing the nation's immigration laws if elected to Congress.