WASHINGTON — Eager to retain Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, President Barack Obama returns today for his third Miami fundraiser of the year — this time to benefit House races, including an increasingly competitive South Florida contest.
The reception and dinner at the Coral Gables home of retired Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning will benefit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and Boca Raton Democrat Rep. Ron Klein, whose tea party-backed challenger, Allen West, is nearly matching him dollar-for-dollar. The pair squared off in a debate Sunday.
Republicans are gunning to pick up at least 39 Democratic seats to claim a 218-vote House majority and have energetically targeted four Democratic-held districts in Florida, including Klein's seat. In 2006, Klein won by ousting veteran Republican Rep. E. Clay Shaw.
Obama's last fundraiser in Miami in August raised an estimated $700,000 for the Florida Democratic Party. In April, he raised $2.5 million for the Democratic National Committee at Gloria and Emilio Estefan's house in Miami Beach. Picking up the pace as the election approaches, he headlined four DNC fundraisers in September, helping the party raise $16 million — its best monthly haul.
Tickets for the Coral Gables event are $17,600 per couple for dinner and a photo with the president; $5,000 per person for the dinner or $1,000 per person for the reception. The first $2,400 of each contribution will go to Klein; the next $30,400 will be designated to the DCCC and donors can earmark contributions for candidates.
Democratic Senate candidate Kendrick Meek is expected to attend; Democratic gubernatorial candidate Alex Sink, whose opponent has sought to tie her to Obama, will not attend. Sink, who distanced herself from Obama at the August event, has a "full schedule'' in Tampa today, a spokeswoman said.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been listed as a host for the event, but is not expected to attend.
"We're just spreading out," said Broward Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who chairs the DCCC's efforts to keep incumbents in their seats. "We've got the president; we probably need the speaker somewhere else."