Real estate industry’s pick loses Miami Beach mayor’s race

But winner Steven Meiner snagged last-minute donations from Pam Liebman, Witkoffs, Oren Alexander, Len Blavatnik

Real Estate’s Pick Gongora Loses Miami Beach Mayor’s Race
Steven Meiner and Michael Góngora (Facebook, Getty)

Real estate lawyer Michael Góngora, who garnered significant support from the industry, lost the Miami Beach mayor’s race in a runoff election on Tuesday. 

Commissioner Steven Meiner, an attorney with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, won with 54 percent of the vote, or about 5,400 votes. Meiner will succeed Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, who was termed out. 

Góngora raised more than half a million dollars, excluding funds from political action committees. Meiner raised about $242,000. 

Though his campaign was outraised, Meiner did secure $1,000 contributions in mid-November from Corcoran Group CEO Pam Liebman, developers Alex and Lauren Witkoff, developer Ari Pearl, top residential broker Oren Alexander, and Alexander’s brother, Alon, who is president of Kent Security. Real estate investor Alex Kleyner, who invested in embattled developer Rishi Kapoor’s former projects, donated $1,000. (Pearl also contributed $1,000 to Góngora’s campaign.)

Len and Emily Blavatnik also contributed $2,000 to Meiner. Billionaire Len Blavatnik heads Access Industries, which has backed the development of the ultra high-end Faena District in Miami Beach. 

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On Friday, the Miami Herald reported that three of Meiner’s former colleagues at the SEC alleged that Meiner made unwanted advances toward them, which he denied. 

Góngora, a community association litigator at the law firm Becker, raised the most money among mayoral candidates, who included attorney Mike Grieco and businessman Bill Roedy in the Nov. 7 election

Góngora’s donors included the Kanavos family, co-owners of the Sagamore and Ritz-Carlton hotels in South Beach; Shore Club Property Owner and Witkoff Group, the developers of the planned Shore Club luxury condo and hotel project; Miami Beach luxury homebuilder and restaurateur Mathieu Massa; and David Grutman, a nightlife operator, restaurateur and hotelier, along with his wife, designer Isabela Rangel Grutman. 

Over the last month, Góngora also raised money from the Miami Realtors PAC, restaurateur Myles Chefetz of Prime 112 and Prime Fish, and David Wallack, CEO of Mango’s Tropical Cafe, and companies tied to Mango’s. 

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