Columns

The Big Donors in Miami Mayor's Race

In this week's print edition of Riptide, I wrote that none of the candidates in the Miami mayoral race will crack the $1 million benchmarks set by Manny Diaz in 2001 and 2005.

Nevertheless, City Commissioners Tomas Regalado and Joe Sanchez are shoring up support with some of the city's more illustrious citizens. In Regalado's corner: auto magnate Norman Braman has contributed $7,000 (through his wife and various corporations) to help the Spanish language radio host win on November 5.

Regalado says he is also getting help from Armando Gutierrez, a Cuban American lobbyist who made a name for himself as the spokesman for Elian Gonzalez's relatives. "He's helping me with raising contributions from indivdiuals who do business with the county."

Indeed, Gutierrez's clients are popping up on Regalado's treasurer reports. Six members of the Munilla family, who own Magnum Construction Management Corp., a firm that regularly wins county construction contracts, each gave Regalado $500, the maximum allowed. So did Victor, Tracey, Jessie, David Brown and their company Brown Development, a company that is seeking to build beyond the county's urban development boundary.

Sanchez, on the other hand, can count on high-profile real estate developers Two of his biggest donors are Tony Goldman and Sherwood Weiser, who combined -- through corporations they own and so forth -- raised close to $10,000 for the commissioner.

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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.