David Rivera files to run in open HD 119 contest, but fails to qualify
Political comeback for former legislator.

David Rivera
Despite multiple scandals, Rivera has repeatedly tried to reboot his political career.

For a moment, it looked like former GOP U.S. Rep. David Rivera was mounting yet another attempted political comeback, filing to run in the open House District 119 contest on the final day of qualifying for state legislative offices.

However, inexplicably, Rivera did not qualify as a candidate, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

The redesigned HD 119 covers parts of unincorporated west Miami-Dade County including West Kendall, Country Walk and The Crossings.

Other qualified candidates in the HD 119 Republican Primary include Miami-Dade Area 11 Community Council Vice Chair Ashley Alvarez, lawyer Rob Gonzalez, former legislative aide Juan Carlos Porras, and hotelier Ricky Tsay. Teacher Jose Soto also filed but had not qualified as of publication time.

Gabriel Gonzalez has also qualified to run as a Democrat, the only candidate to do so. He filed in late March.

Republicans likely have an advantage in the General Election. Democrat Andrew Gillum performed more than 6 points better than Republican Ron DeSantis in the region in 2018. But that advantage was flipped entirely in 2020, with Republican Donald Trump earning 54% of the vote in the area, compared to 45% for Democrat Joe Biden. And with Republicans expected to have a strong 2022 cycle, that gives the GOP the advantage here in November.

Efforts by Florida Politics to reach Rivera were unsuccessful.

Rivera lost his U.S. House seat in 2012. The Federal Election Commission accused Rivera during that contest of sending at least $69,000 secretly to the campaign of Justin Lamar Sternad. Sternad was allegedly posing as a straw candidate in the 2012 Democratic Primary to help weaken Rivera’s General Election opponent, Joe Garcia. Garcia went on to win that race.

That triggered a civil lawsuit filed by the FEC, which ended with Rivera being forced to pay a $456,000 fine.

Despite the loss and ensuing scandal, Rivera has repeatedly tried to reboot his political career.

Rivera attempted to return to the state House in 2016 when he ran against Robert Asencio for House District 118. Asencio narrowly won that election by just 54 votes.

In 2018, Rivera again filed to compete in the House District 105 contest and put in $360,000 toward his campaign. But he failed to qualify in that race, meaning he never even appeared on the ballot.

Rivera sat out the 2020 election cycle, at least as an active candidate. Nevertheless, his name was bandied about repeatedly after The New York Times reported that Rivera’s consulting firm, Interamerican Consulting, agreed to help improve the standing of a then-Venezuelan-controlled oil company.

That company, Petróleos de Venezuela, S.A., sued Rivera over failing to perform on that contract, reportedly worth a whopping $50 million. That led to Democrats repeatedly hammering Rivera and his political allies over the connection to the Nicolás Maduro government.

On Friday, the Florida Democratic Party again tried that tactic, hitting Republican U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, asking whether he’d send an endorsement Rivera’s way.

“David Rivera used his friendship with Marco Rubio to rake in millions of dollars from Nicolás Maduro’s narco-regime. Now that Rivera is running for office again, Rubio can’t afford to stay silent. Floridians deserve to know whether Marco Rubio will once again help out his longtime political ally, or find the courage to stand up to one of the Maduro regime’s corrupt lobbyists,” said Florida Democratic Party spokesperson Grant Fox.

Nevertheless, Rivera is looking to put that baggage behind him, joining a jam-packed GOP field seeking to fill the open HD 119 seat. As of publication, his account is not yet listed as “qualified” on the Division of Elections website.

As of Friday morning, other qualified candidates in the HD 119 Republican Primary include Miami-Dade Area 11 Community Council Vice Chair Ashley Alvarez, lawyer Rob Gonzalez, former legislative aide Juan Carlos Porras and hotelier Ricky Tsay. Teacher Jose Soto also filed but had not qualified as of publication time.

Gabriel Gonzalez has also qualified to run as a Democrat, the only candidate to do so. He filed in late March.

Republicans likely have an advantage in the General Election. Democrat Andrew Gillum performed more than 6 points better than Republican Ron DeSantis in the region in 2018. But that advantage was flipped entirely in 2020, with Republican Donald Trump earning 54% of the vote in the area, compared to 45% for Democrat Joe Biden. And with Republicans expected to have a strong 2022 cycle, that gives the GOP the advantage here in November.

The redesigned HD 119 covers parts of unincorporated west Miami-Dade County including West Kendall, Country Walk and The Crossings.

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]



#FlaPol

Florida Politics is a statewide, new media platform covering campaigns, elections, government, policy, and lobbying in Florida. This platform and all of its content are owned by Extensive Enterprises Media.

Publisher: Peter Schorsch @PeterSchorschFL

Contributors & reporters: Phil Ammann, Renzo Downey, Roseanne Dunkelberger, A.G. Gancarski, Anne Geggis, Kelly Hayes, Joe Henderson, Ryan Nicol, Jacob Ogles, Scott Powers, Gray Rohrer, Aimee Sachs, Jesse Scheckner, Christine Sexton, Andrew Wilson, Wes Wolfe, and Mike Wright.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @PeterSchorschFL
Phone: (727) 642-3162
Address: 204 37th Avenue North #182
St. Petersburg, Florida 33704




Sign up for Sunburn


Categories