GOP, Dems split two Florida House special elections

by | May 1, 2018

Two vacant seats in the Florida House will remain under the control of the party that previously held them following special elections that were held Tuesday. The outcome of one race was pretty much expected, the other wasn’t as certain.

As expected, in the contest for House District 39, Republican Josie Tomkow, a 23-year-old recent University of Florida graduate, defeated 64-year-old Ricky Shirah. Tomkow received nearly 60 percent of the vote, compared to just over 40 percent for Sirah.

In the race for House District 114 in Miami-Dade, Democrat Javier Fernandez defeated Republican Andrew Vargas and Liz de las Cuevas, a teacher running without party affiliation.

That contest was a little closer,

Fernandez won by a 4  percent margin. He received nearly 51 of the vote, followed by Vargas with close to 47 percent, while de las Cuevas received just over 2 percent.

The District 114 seat was left vacant after former representative Daisy Baez, a Democrat, stepped down after admitting that she lied about her address on her voter registration in order to make it appear that she lived in the district.

The district has about 1 percent more Republican voters than Democrats and the GOP had held the seat prior to Baez’s victory.

The victory by 42-year-old Fernandez, a land-use attorney, keeps the seat in Democratic control.

“I am beyond grateful to be chosen to serve the people in the community I love,” said Rep.-elect Fernandez in a written statement issued Tuesday night. “I am proud of the campaign we ran, we spoke to people about issues in our community, about improving our public schools, protecting our children from gun violence, improving Florida’s infrastructure, and taking real action to deal with climate change.”

Tomkow won the District 39 seat that had been held by Neil Combee who left office after being appointed state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency.

She is one of the youngest candidates to be elected to the Florida House. She’s only four months older than state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam was when he was first elected to the House. Putnam still holds the record as the youngest member.

In a year that Democrats are hoping for a blue wave at the polls, Shirah told the Lakeland Ledger Monday that it would take a tsunami to win the Republican controlled district, which covers portions of Polk and Osceola counties.

“It’s a blue wave right now,” Shirah said. “I understand it might take a tsunami for me to win but we can create that and we can win.”

The results amounted to a tsunami alright. But, in this case, it was red.



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