Vince Lago wins Coral Gables mayoral contest
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Vince Lago
Voters also weighed in on two City Commission races Tuesday evening.

Coral Gables residents decided on a new Mayor Tuesday night, selecting Vince Lago from a three-person field.

Lago defeated Patricia Keon and Jackson “Rip” Holmes in Tuesday’s contest. According to unofficial results, Lago secured nearly 58% of the vote compared to 38% for Keon and 4% for Holmes.

Both Keon and Lago served as City Commissioners. Their respective mayoral runs opened up two Commission seats in Group Two and Three. Races to fill both of those seats were also on the ballot.

Current Mayor Raúl Valdés-Fauli’s decision to retire allowed a new face to step in. Both Keon and Lago were first elected to the City Commission in 2013. Holmes, an activist, filed to run for Mayor just before the Feb. 26 filing deadline. He raised less than $1,700 total and was not expected to mount a serious challenge.

Lago, who currently serves as the Coral Gables Vice Mayor, collected more than $370,000 in his bid, while Keon raised just over $228,000. Keon’s total also included a $100,000 self-loan, which she did not tap into. Lago outspent Keon $220,000 to $127,000.

The mayoral race is technically nonpartisan, though candidates’ partisan leanings may have played a role in Tuesday’s results. Lago is a member of the GOP. Keon is a Democrat.

Republicans over-performed in Miami-Dade County this past November, and that success continued Tuesday. The GOP’s recent success is thanks in part to an impressive performance among Hispanic voters. Nearly half of Coral Gables voters are Hispanic.

The race to replace Lago in Group Two on the City Commission was a six-person contest and is headed to a runoff after Tuesday’s contest.

The two biggest names in that contest were José Valdés-Fauli, the brother of the outgoing Mayor, and Tania Cruz-Giménez, the daughter-in-law of former Miami-Dade County Mayor and now-U.S. Rep. Carlos Giménez. Cruz-Giménez is married to Rep. Giménez’s son, C.J.

But Cruz-Giménez will miss out on an impending runoff election, as Attorney Rhonda Anne Anderson and Valdés-Fauli placed first and second, respectively, Tuesday night. Tuesday’s unofficial results show Anderson earned 42% of the vote, followed by Valdés-Fauli at 26% and Cruz-Giménez at 14%.

To win the election outright Tuesday, a candidate needed to secure 50% of the vote. Otherwise, an April 27 runoff is necessary.

Valdés-Fauli was the best fundraiser in the contest. He raised more than $122,000, including a $5,000 self-loan. Cruz-Giménez raised just under $108,000, all in outside cash.

Anderson and marketing vet Claudia Miro both netted just under $40,000. Miro netted just 8% of the vote Tuesday.

Lawer Mayra Joli, a bombastic Donald Trump supporter who previously ran for the U.S. House, won only 7% support. University of Miami grad Alexander Luis Haq placed last in the contest with just 2% support.

The Group 3 contest seeking Keon’s successor was a four-way contest. That race will also head to a runoff.

According to Tuesday’s unofficial results, lawyer Javier Baños secured 32% of the vote. Kirk Menendez, a former Miami assistant city attorney who worked as chief of staff for Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, placed second with 31% support.

Lawyer Alex Bucelo came in third with 24%, followed by Phillip “PJ” Mitchell with 13%.

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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