Jim Mooney notches narrow win in HD 120

Jim Mooney
Jim Mooney holds a thin lead over rival Rhonda Rebman Lopez, though the vote count isn't finished.

Republican Jim Mooney managed a razor-thin win over rival Rhonda Rebman Lopez in the House District 120 contest, but that could change as outstanding ballots are counted.

Mooney defeated Lopez 35.4%-34.3%. Alexandria Suarez, an attorney, courted 30.3% support.

Mooney’s lead over Lopez sits at just 148 votes. While that margin in small, it is above the 0.5 percentage point threshold needed to trigger a recount.

HD 120 covers Monroe County as well as parts of southern Miami-Dade. Mooney outperformed Lopez in Monroe, while Lopez beat out Mooney in Miami-Dade.

Mooney, a former Islamorada Mayor and current Councilman, had some key endorsements heading into Tuesday’s contest. Lopez, meanwhile, was a fundraising juggernaut.

Mooney was backed by outgoing Rep. Holly Raschein, who won four elections in HD 120 before being forced out by term limits. Sen. Anitere Flores also endorsed Mooney, and the Florida Medical Association PAC backed him last week.

Lopez raised more than $246,000 in outside money this election cycle, topping Mooney by more than $116,000.

She also remained competitive with endorsements.

Homestead Mayor Steve Losner backed Lopez, and she also earned support from the South Florida Police Benevolent Association.

Lopez drew controversy earlier in the campaign season due to a donation from a consulting firm linked to former U.S. Rep. David Rivera, who had connections with Venezuela’s state-run oil company.

Suarez, the third Republican candidate in the district, told Florida Politics she wanted to preserve the environment and address water issues in her district.

She raised $53,000 for her bid — less than half of what Mooney managed and a mere fifth of Lopez — but it was enough to get on the airwaves with an ad touting her conservative bona fides.

Mooney will face Democratic nominee Clint Barras in the General Election.

Barras, who moved to Key West in 1998, runs a digital marketing agency. Barras told Florida Politics he hopes to expand Florida’s Medicaid program and improve public schools.

Barras raised nearly $42,000 and spent close to $10,000 on his campaign so far.

Come November, he’ll face a tough battle for the seat as HD 120 has a penchant for voting GOP despite the party’s disadvantage in voter registrations. As of the pre-primary book closing, there were 500 more Democrats in the district than Republicans.

That translated into a slim win for Hillary Clinton within the district four years ago. The top-of-ticket Democratic victory didn’t make for a closer race down-ballot — Rep. Holly Raschein won her third term by 15 points.

Still, the margin tightened to six points in her 2018 bid, providing a glimmer of hope for Barras’ campaign assuming he can collect the resources necessary to go toe-to-toe with his opponent.

Staff Reports


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