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| Columns |

Carlos Gimenez Collects Half-A-Million Bucks In First Round of Fundraising

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Miami-Dade County's new mayor has become quite the rain maker. According to his most recently filed campaign finance report, Carlos Gimenez raised $419,985 between Oct. 1 and Dec. 31 of last year for his reelection run. His political action committee, Common Sense Now, raked in another $89,750. County Commission Chairman Joe Martinez, who has hinted at running against Gimenez, has not yet officially filed for the mayor's race.

While the reports contain plenty of familiar names who supported Gimenez against former Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina in last summer's special election, there were a few surprises.

For instance, ex-Miami Mayor Manny Diaz donated $500 to the reelection effort. Back in 2003, Diaz pushed out Gimenez as city manager in favor of Miami businessman Joe Arriola, whose sons also each gave the $500 maximum to the county mayor's campaign.

Diaz is not the only local dignitary to warm up to Gimenez. Former Gov. Jeb Bush, who endorsed Robaina, has apparently switched sides. He gave $500 to Gimenez's PAC.

Other notable donors include:

  • Auto dealers Gus Machado, Alan Potamkin, and George Williamson, who combined for $20,000 in contributions to Gimenez and Common Sense Now.
  • The Havenick family, who own Magic City Casino, deposited $5,500 through various corporations they own on Oct. 15, about two weeks after the casino gave Common Sense Now a $10,000 check.
  • On the same day, Miami law firm Bilzin Sumberg Baena Price & Axelrod hosted a fundraiser for the mayor, collecting roughly $15,000 from its attorneys. The firm also gave $7,500 to Gimenez's PAC.
  • Miami Beach real estate developer Russell Galbut was another big bundler, who raised $11,500 through various companies and relatives.
  • Eight employees from the company Secure Wrap each gave the $500 maximum. Secure Wrap is trying to win back the lucrative multimillion dollar contract to seal travelers' luggage with a protective seal to prevent theft.

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