Big fundraising, big buys in southwest Broward’s SD 35 Democratic Primary


As the days tick down until a rare Primary of one of the state’s Democratic leaders, Lauren Book’s Senate re-election campaign has raised six figures and spent as much in 20 days.

Reports for campaign finance activity between July 2 and July 22, show that between her personal account and her two committees, Leadership for Broward and Leadership for Florida, the Senate Democratic Leader still has $2.2 million to drop in her contest — her first ballot challenge since her first 2016 election.

Meanwhile, her challenger, Barbara Sharief, has gone through more than half of the $538,000 she added to her campaign accounts. Sharief, a former Broward County Commissioner who lent her Senate campaign $500,000, has $227,418 on hand between her personal account and her political committee, Real Empowerment for the People.

Sharief raised $8,589 over the 20 days in July during the period for which reports were due last week. Book raised $221,947 in that same 20 days.

For the single, largest boosts to her coffers, Book received three, $25,000 donations from three entities: Floridians for Economic Advancement, a Tallahassee-based committee, chaired by Margaret Frison; Florida Alliance for Better Governance, another Tallahassee committee chaired by Screven Watson and the Seminole Tribe.

Her donation list also has a share of elected officials and candidates. Democrat Hillary Cassel, a candidate for House District 101, gave $1,000. Jose “Pepe” Diaz, Miami-Dade County Commissioner, gave $1,000. Chad Klitzman, a former candidate for Broward County Supervisor of Elections, gave $500.

Real estate interests showed up with some big-ticket donations. Atlantic Pacific Communities of Pinecrest, gave $15,000. Michael Wohl, a Coral Gables developer, gave $10,000. And Allan Bense, a Panama City real estate developer, gave $5,000.

The insurance industry kicked in $10,000, including $5,000 from Public Adjusters for the Insuring Public and $2,000 from Brown & Brown in Daytona Beach and its subsidiary.

Lawyers and law firms collectively gave Book a $15,250 boost during this period, including a $5,000 donation from Greenberg Traurig.

As far as Book’s spending stream, the biggest check — $180,000 — went to the Florida Democratic Legislative Committee.

The campaign spent $99,700 on what is described in state records as “communications expense” with $85,500 going to Edge Communications in Miami and $14,200 going to MDW Communications in Plantation.

Sharief’s campaign records show direct media buys, however. 

Out of the $137,103 she spent between July 2 and July 22, $63,571 in TV ad buys, including $10,540 with the Spanish-language channel WJAN. NBC6 drew the largest investment, where the campaign plunked down $15,639 in the July reporting period. WFOR, Miami’s CBS affiliate, was a close second, where the campaign invested $14,173.

For spending in the second reporting period of July, between July 16-22, campaign buys shifted to printing. The campaign dropped $27,597 on printing and mailing with Accurate Business Systems in Miami Gardens.

The campaign also made a big radio buy in the latter part of the July reporting period. More than $19,000 went to JA Marketing in West Palm Beach for radio advertising. Win On The Ground Consulting in Coral Springs also received $9,425 for consulting and reimbursement.

In this set of campaign reports, there’s no mention of the legal fees involved in the lawsuit that Sharief has filed against Book for the TV advertisements that Sharief argues are defamatory and libelous.

The campaigns faced a deadline Friday for reporting all campaign activity through July 22.

There’s no Republican vying to represent Senate District 35, so Aug. 23’s contest will be an Open Primary, when voters of any political stripe will be able to weigh in.

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