Republican Sen. Anitere Flores says she is supporting Islamorada Councilman and former Mayor Jim Mooney in the House District 120 contest.
That race currently features a three-way battle on the Republican side, with Mooney competing against Rhonda Rebman Lopez and Alexandria Suarez. Flores represents Senate District 39, which overlaps with much of HD 120.
“Jim knows the keys and the surrounding community better than any other candidate in the race,” Flores said in a Monday statement.
“His commitment to the community and his passion to serve will make him an ideal candidate to continue the great efforts of Rep. Raschein.”
HD 120 covers Monroe County as well as parts of southern Miami-Dade County. Raschein is barred from seeking the seat again due to term limits. She has endorsed Mooney as her preferred successor as well.
The addition of Flores’ endorsement shows the current GOP guard in the region appears to favor Mooney, despite the fact Lopez has easily led the field in fundraising so far.
Through April, Lopez has collected nearly $210,000 in donations and has added $35,000 in self-loans. Her political committee, South Florida First PC, has added another $2,500.
Lopez retains about $220,000 of that going forward.
Mooney, meanwhile, places second with just over $86,000 raised through April. He has more than $80,000 of that still on hand. Suarez has raised less than $44,000 and has just under $40,000 still available.
Clint Barras, a vice president at the web design and marketing company Two Oceans Digital, is the only Democrat competing for the seat. He’s raised less than $23,000 since joining the contest in February and has just over $19,000 on hand.
Candidates face a Wednesday, June 10 deadline to report all financial activity through May 31.
Lopez and Suarez have engaged in a recent spat over Lopez’ decision to hold onto a $1,000 donation from a David Rivera-linked consulting firm. That firm, Interamerican Consulting, agreed to a $50 million contract with a Venezuela oil company which was then under the control of socialist leader Nicolás Maduro.
“Anyone’s willingness to do business with [Nicolás] Maduro’s state-run companies is deeply troubling,” Suarez said. “Lopez’ actions are in direct opposition to Republican values, President [Donald] Trump, and the security of the United States.”
Lopez shot back with a fiery statement of her own.
“Before Suarez can ask anyone to drop out, she needs to qualify as a candidate first,” Lopez retorted.
“Her losing campaign was not even able to gather enough petitions to qualify for the ballot, not to mention her fundraising is anemic. If she ever actually qualifies as a candidate, then I’m sure the voters will reject her ambulance-chasing history as a personal injury attorney.”
Qualifying week began Monday and ends at noon on Friday, June 12.