For the past 15 years, Miami-Dade County has had Republican mayors. That could soon change: Due to term limits, Mayor Carlos Gimenez must bow out in 2020 – and the sole Democratic candidate in the race says she raised more than $830,000 in the first month of her campaign.
Daniella Levine Cava, currently a county commissioner, announced her April fundraising total yesterday. According to the campaign, she attracted more money than any non-incumbent mayoral candidate in Miami-Dade has ever garnered in a single month.
"The grassroots enthusiasm and support that our campaign has received in just the first month is overwhelming – we surpassed our goals and shattered expectations," Levine Cava said in a news release.
So far, only two candidates have entered the mayoral race: Levine Cava and Juan Zapata, a Republican former state representative and former Miami-Dade commissioner. According to the Miami Herald , however, a slew of established politicians, including Commissioner Esteban Bovo, Commissioner Xavier Suarez, former U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, former Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, might also enter the race. Candidates have until June of next year to officially file to run.
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Nearly half of what Levine Cava raised in April came from the Democratic political committee Changing Florida's Future, which donated $406,000 to Levine Cava and her own political committee. (The donations were first reported by Florida Politics.)
As of late March, Zapata had raised $19,870. His updated total through April hasn't yet been filed with the Miami-Dade elections office.
The buzz around Levine Cava is significant in the wake of the "blue wave" in the 2018 midterms. Although Miami-Dade still has a strong conservative voter base, there are some indications the tide is turning. Last summer, voters elected Democrat Eileen Higgins to the county commission in a shocking upset. Her opponent was Zoraida Barreiro, a Republican and wife of former Commissioner Bruno Barreiro. Higgins' top political consultant, Christian Ulvert, is now running Levine Cava's campaign.
Since she was elected to the county commission in 2014, Levine Cava has been one of the strongest Democratic voices on the board, which is technically nonpartisan. Notably, she opposed Gimenez's controversial 2017 decision to detain inmates for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. She's also known for supporting environmental protection and sustainability efforts.