Beyond Miami-Dade: GOP’s South Florida success stretched into deep blue Broward County

GOP Rep. Chip LaMarca's team worked overtime to hold his seat in deep-blue Broward.

Much attention has justifiably been given to Republicans’ major wins in Miami-Dade County Tuesday night. But the party also saw success in the neighboring county to the north, particularly in a House District 93 contest some thought could be competitive.

That race saw incumbent GOP Rep. Chip LaMarca defeat Democrat Linda Thompson Gonzalez by double digits, an improvement on LaMarca’s 7-point win in 2018.

LaMarca’s district is the only district fully within deep-blue Broward County to be represented by a Republican.

While LaMarca led the money game, Thompson Gonzalez picked up her fundraising pace once the General Election began. Despite having plenty of money behind her, the Democrat performed worse than the 2018 nominee.

Anna Alexopoulos Farrar of Converge GPS worked with LaMarca on messaging and communications consulting and attributed LaMarca’s success to his consistent messaging and cross-aisle appeal.

“He actually is one of those people that does what he says he is going to do,” Alexopoulos Farrar said. “So there wasn’t a lot of spin having to be done there. His message of bipartisanship is exactly what his record shows.”

In addition to LaMarca’s win, Republican David Borrero also held the House District 105 seat for Republicans. That district bleeds into Broward but also stretches from Miami-Dade County to Collier County.

Republicans also flipped the House District 103 seat — which spans Broward and Miami-Dade counties — with a win by attorney Tom Fabricio.

While LaMarca won Tuesday by more than 11 points, a win wasn’t always guaranteed for the incumbent. A mid-October survey had Thompson Gonzalez within 1 point of LaMarca. Alexopoulos Farrar said the campaign’s internal polling showed a wide range of options for the eventual outcome.

“Our polling ranged from everything from being up to really tight to being down,” Alexopoulos Farrar said. “But the good thing about the Representative and his team is that we all always run like we’re 10 points behind.”

Corey Staniscia leads that team for LaMarca and has been on the winning side for two straight cycles now. Staniscia echoed Alexopoulos Farrar’s take on LaMarca’s strength inside the district.

“Rep. LaMarca has worked very hard over the last 10 years to work across the aisle as a common-sense, moderate Republican voice whether on the county commission or more recently in the Florida House,” Staniscia said.

“People see him working on non-partisan issues like collegiate athlete name image and likeness or coastal management every day. So when a Washington, D.C. outsider with outside D.C. money attempts to say Chip is a radical, voters are clearly not buying what they are selling. When Rep. LaMarca outpaced the top of the ticket by double digits, it proved that the Chip brand is exactly what the voters of HD 93 are looking for.”

LaMarca served several years on the Lighthouse Point City Commission before running for a Broward County Commission seat in 2010. He served on the County Commission for eight years before joining the Florida House.

During his first-term, LaMarca did make bipartisan appeals. He backed a landmark bill allowing college athletes in the state to get paid starting in 2021. LaMarca also supported work on issues relating to climate change, and he supports same-sex marriage.

Of course, he also backed traditional GOP positions such as opposing a minimum wage hike to $15 per hour and expressing skepticism of full marijuana legalization. But Alexopoulos Farrar said his focus on health care, environment and jobs had broad appeal.

“I think a lot of that messaging probably resonates in a lot of different districts across the state,” Alexopoulos Farrar said.

“He spent every day since he got back from Tallahassee focused on COVID recovery and helping businesses and people connect with either unemployment benefits or small business benefits. So there were a lot of things he did — not just in Tallahassee over the past two years, but within the last few months — that we really could highlight and show that he doesn’t just talk the talking points, he actually walks the walk.”

Ryan Nicol

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to [email protected].


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