The election outcome is far from decided
According to the most recent records filed, Sarnoff has raised a total of roughly $748,000 this election cycle compared to Russell’s $158,000. In light of his significant disadvantage in campaign funds, some people might take Russell’s sizable margin in votes as a victory for the idea that money can’t buy an election. However, the District 2 candidates knew all along that with nine contenders, a runoff was likely. It is quite possible that the Sarnoff camp is simply sitting on a pile of money and is now ready to spend at a rapid pace between now and November 17 to try for a different outcome in the runoff.
Sarnoff had spent $647,000 as of October 29, leaving her with a little over $100,000. Russell has spent approximately $150,000 thus far, leaving him with only $8,000 to spend – more than 12 times less than Sarnoff. To assume that Russell’s strong showing in the election on November 3 means that he is a sure bet to win on November 17 is to ignore the size of each candidate’s war chest. Don’t discount the advantage of having roughly $92,000 more to spend in the next two weeks. To put the number in perspective. Sarnoff could spend roughly $6,500 a day between now and the runoff compared to roughly $570 a day for Russell.
Given the staggering sums raised for a local commission seat and that Florida law prohibits donors from giving more than $1,000 to a local candidate, you may be asking yourself, where did all of that money come from? Based on my preliminary analysis, it is clear that candidates (some more than others) looked not only outside of Miami, but outside of Florida to gather these campaign donations. As of the October 23 filing, Russell had received three donations of the maximum amount ($1,000) from individuals or organizations located outside of the state of Florida. He received these donations from an investor, someone in construction, and someone in hospitality all reporting addresses in the state of New York. In the same time period, Sarnoff received more than 60 contributions of the maximum amount of $1,000 from donors outside the state of Florida. There are too many to provide information on all of these donors, but the list includes contractors, traffic consultants, real estate executives and developers located in Washington DC, Maryland, Virginia, Michigan, Massachusetts, New York, and Illinois, among others.
Voters should be careful to consider the outcome of the runoff a foregone conclusion. Given the important role that money plays in a candidate’s ability to win an election and the large sum raised by the Sarnoff campaign, the outcome is far from decided. Based on the amount of money donated from out of state, it appears that we Miami residents aren’t the only ones interested in the outcome of this race either.
All of the campaign finance data mentioned above is available as public record here, including the name and address of each donor as well as the amount donated. Anyone is able to browse the filings for more information.
Coconut Grove Resident
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