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Thursday, November 05, 2015

The election outcome is far from decided

The race for the District 2 Commission seat will come down to a November 17 runoff between Ken Russell and Teresa Sarnoff. In the Grapevine comments, many residents are predicting an easy victory for Russell for two reasons: his sizable margin over Sarnoff in the November 3 election and the high likelihood of Solares supporters choosing to vote for Russell. However, all District 2 voters should be reminded that 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.

Jennifer Connolly
Coconut Grove Resident

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Anonymous al crespo said...

There is an obvious solution to this problem: Everyone who wants to make sure that the Sarnoffs leave the building, and haven't donated the maximum amount, or donated any money to ken, should write out a check today and send it to him, or drop it by his house.

Money talks, and bullshit walks.

November 05, 2015 7:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off course, Sarnoff has kept all the money to spend in the runoff and he is probably going to spend his own money now to get the wife elected.

November 05, 2015 7:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

..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."

Now do these foreign people from other cities and states care about District 2 or, even less, Coconut Grove? They want something in return. You don't just give away cash to politicians for the love of philanthropy, do you? At the very least they hope to be remembered for each "donation", nothing is really free. Are they so rich than they send money away just for fun and kicks, and then forget about it? Of course not. Thus, special shady favors are always granted at City Hall.

November 05, 2015 7:55 AM  
Blogger alcrespo said...

Some of those out-of-state companies belong to folks doing business in Miami. Moshe Mana, the billionaire who's purchased a big chunk of Flagler Street gave Teresa a total of $10,000 from the 10 companies listed as being in Jersey City.

I'm currently working on a new story about Mana, the MPA,the Oak Street Parking Garage and the parking lot next to City Hall that should interest the folks who read this blog. Hopefully I'll have it up by this evening.

November 05, 2015 8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some civilized countries such as Canada and the UK don’t permit their candidates to receive funding by citizens or cooperation. They all are provided a level playing field with 6 months of public funding to campaign before an election. The U.S.A. not so much! So the question remains… Will Miami developers interested in up-zoning now be doubling down and sending more funds to the Sarnoff’s or will they be hedging their bets on the winner by diversifying their investments and also supporting Ken?

November 05, 2015 9:52 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

you can donate all over again in a run off notwithstanding prior amounts, both candidates can get their prior contributors to donate to the max once again, its a new horse race for fundraising..

November 05, 2015 9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The two Coconut Grove activists are being led by two City of Miami lobbyists.

Ken by Fernando Diez.
Teresa by Steve Marin.

Furthermore, Diez is an former Marin & Sons employee.

What is the difference between both options?

Per the Engage.Miami Voter Guide section.

Ken opposes "Starting A Public Financing System For City Races And Limiting Outside Big Money Donation."

Teresa was undecided.

November 05, 2015 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard that the Sarnoff plan is to get Teresa elected and then have her resign after a few months in office. Then, Marc would step back in and run the show. Is this possible???

November 05, 2015 1:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@1:46 PM:

He is term limited, so that isn't possible unless there's some obscure loophole that allows this. Besides, if she wins, he'll be running the show anyways.

November 05, 2015 3:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You all got your way and now have Russell to be your hero.
Please write down all of the reasons you wanted and needed him, put it in a drawer and pull it out this time next year and write in to say how happy you are with your choice.

November 05, 2015 9:02 PM  

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