Miami Herald: “Miami-Dade donors switch sides to support incumbent commissioner”

Original link here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article149827944.html

What a difference the title of county commissioner can make.

When she successfully challenged incumbent Lynda Bell three years ago, Daniella Levine Cava received negligible support from the developers and county contractors who bankroll sizeable portions of county races. Now an incumbent herself, Levine Cava is collecting some large checks from some of the same donors who helped Bell.

Landmark, a top affordable housing developer in Miami-Dade, gave $17,000 to Bell in 2014 and none to Levine Cava. In April, Landmark’s president and affiliated entities gave $9,000 to Levine Cava for her debut fundraising report.

“We just think she’s doing a good job,” said Robert Saland, Landmark’s president. “She called us up and asked if we could help her out.”

Levine Cava, a former nonprofit executive whose South Dade district includes Homestead, was not immediately available for an interview after Wednesday’s release of her campaign committee’s report. She raised $118,000 in April, and the money represents the first stream of cash directed to the 2018 cycle of commission elections in Miami-Dade.

Christian Ulvert, Levine Cava’s campaign manager, said the commissioner’s converts on the donor side reflect a vote of confidence in her tenure. “I don’t think it’s a surprise,” he said. “Given how hard she has worked.”

Levine Cava and five other incumbents — Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Sally Heyman, Jean Monestime, Rebeca Sosa, and Javier Souto — face reelection in 2018. Term-limit rules enacted in 2012 also mean any incumbent who gets reelected could not run again in 2022. Levine Cava was the first to file for reelection last month, and last week Sosa joined the list of incumbents officially running for another four-year term.

Sosa, a former West Miami mayor who has been on the commission since 2001, will be required to submit her first fundraising report next month.

When she challenged Bell in 2014, Levine Cava received financial backing from county unions and the Democratic Party. Other former Bell donors now giving her money are the Miami Dolphins ($13,000 to Bell; $1,250 to Levine Cava), and Redland Market ($8,500 to Bell; $7,000 to Levine Cava).