In one of the most competitive congressional races in Florida, incumbent Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell extends her fundraising lead over her likely challenger, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Fundraising totals for April, May, and June must be reported to the Federal Elections Commission on Wednesday, but both campaigns reported their numbers first to NBC 6.
Both candidates in the 26th Congressional District bested their haul from the first quarter of 2020, but the incumbent Democrat extended her lead in dollars to spend ahead of the election.
The campaign for Mucarsel-Powell says they raised $835,000 in the second quarter of 2020. Her campaign reports she has $2.75 million cash on-hand, ready to spend for her November reelection effort.
“As the coronavirus attacks South Florida, Rep. Mucarsel-Powell is looking out for her community; putting money directly into families' pockets, protecting small business, and requiring Medicare to cover the costs of COVID testing and treatment,” said campaign manager Andrew Markoff.
In the past few years, campaigns have begun announcing numbers of donors under $200 as a show of broad support among many people, as opposed to fewer wealthy people writing large checks.
Her campaign reports out of the 6,337 contributions, 5,704 were under $200 - around 90%.
"The grassroots energy powering our campaign reflects the Congresswoman's tireless commitment to fight for her community," said Markoff.
Meanwhile, the congressional campaign for Gimenez announced they raised $617,000 during the same time period. This was the Republican's first full quarter to fundraise. He announced his bid for Congress in late January with an endorsement by President Trump.
“Mayor Gimenez continues to attract deep and broad support for his campaign, despite not being able to hold in-person events, because of his outstanding leadership and record of accomplishment as Miami-Dade Mayor,” spokeswoman Nicole Rapanos said.
“Voters will have a clear contrast in November between Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and her record as the 409th least bi-partisan member of Congress and Carlos Gimenez’s record of cutting taxes, reforming government and record-setting job creation as Miami-Dade Mayor," she added.
The Gimenez campaign for Congress has $860,000 on hand to spend.
Gimenez could overcome his lower fundraising numbers by being an incumbent during the COVID-19 crisis. He’s been on local television daily with countywide efforts and public briefings. Last week, he greeted President Trump on the tarmac as he visited Miami. That same role could also hurt him if voters turn on people in charge feeling they were not up to the job during a crisis.
First, Gimenez must get through the GOP primary on August 18th. His opponent in that race, fire lieutenant Omar Blanco, is currently suing to get Gimenez’s name off the ballot over a spelling error and the use of an improper bank account. The lawsuit is ongoing.
District 26 will be one of the most closely watched races in 2020. The district includes much of Southwest Miami-Dade County and goes down to the Florida Keys.
Mucarsel-Powell defeated incumbent Republican Representative Carlos Curbelo in 2018. Curbelo is now the NBC 6 political analyst.
In January, February, and March; Mucarsel-Powell raised $742,000. Gimenez raised $415,000. Quarter three - including July, August, and September - will be the crucial home stretch for campaign fundraising before they begin spending massive amounts in advertising and get-out-the-vote efforts to win the November election.