Miami Mayor Francis Suarez’s presidential campaign launch video featured him running with the slogan, “It’s time we get started.” But his fundraising efforts outside of Florida are just now getting off the blocks.
A City & State analysis of his campaign finance records shows the vast majority of his campaign donations before the end of June came from donors in Miami-Dade County.
His campaign only received 93 out-of-state donations, a far cry from the Republican Party’s requirement of 40,000 unique contributors, with at least 200 of them from 20 different states, to make it on the first Republican debate stage.
About 65% of Suarez’s donors before July came from Miami-Dade County, with the majority of those donors coming from the cities of Miami and Miami Beach. Almost 75% of his donors overall came from the state of Florida.
When asked, Suarez campaign spokesperson Soledad Cedro said on Aug. 3 the percentage of Suarez’s donors from the Sunshine State is 7%. Donation information from the month of July is not publicly available.
His slow start – then sudden jump – in out-of-state donors can be at least partially explained by several controversial tactics his campaign started using last month.
Those included raffling tickets to Lionel Messi’s debut with Inter Miami for campaign contributions and offering $20 gift cards for $1 donations, which has been called legally questionable by some critics.
Similar strategies have already publicly paid off for another long-shot GOP presidential candidate, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who got enough donors through a $20 gift card giveaway to qualify for the debate stage officially at the end of July.
Cedro did not answer questions about the methods Suarez’s campaign is using to expand his out-of-state donor count.
Suarez’s early donors include Miami business titans
Buried in the numbers is another tidbit: His early fundraising operation consisted of a large number of high-dollar backers that helped ensure his election to public office in the first place.
The 363 contributors to his campaign account gave an average of over $2,500 each. About 26% of those so far also gave money to his 2020 Miami mayoral reelection campaign, which broke local records in fundraising.
Those donors also gave more than the already high average contributions of his funders this time around, giving an average of $2,958 compared to the average of $2,373 from his non-2020 supporters.
Included in his supporters this time around are local business titans.
Joseph DaGrosa, the founder of the private equity firm DaGrosa Capital Partners that employs Suarez, gave his campaign $3,300 – the limit for individual contributions for a 2024 federal election, in this case, the GOP primary run for the White House.
The information that is publicly available is also likely just the tip of the iceberg of the funding Suarez got from back home.
Information about contributors to the PAC supporting him, SOS America, have not yet been made available. Yet several donors to his campaign account gave large-dollar donations to his local PAC during his mayoral run.
And real estate business partners Erik Rutter and David Weitz each gave him $10,000 then.