Mike Redondo wins Special Election for HD 118, keeps seat in GOP hands
Image via Redondo Law Firm.

Mike Redondo -- Redondo Law Firm
He replaces former Republican Rep. Juan Fernandez-Barquin, whom the Governor appointed as County Clerk.

Republican lawyer Mike Redondo succeeded in his first public office run, winning a one-year stint representing House District 118 on Tuesday.

With all 51 precincts reporting at 8:30 p.m., Redondo had 51.8% of the vote compared to 45.6% for Democrat Johnny Farias and 2.6% for no-party candidate Francisco “Frank” De La Paz, both former Community Council members.

Those percentages, which could shift slightly through Thursday as election workers cure ballots, reflected the wishes of 8,760 residents, who represent 7.74% of the district’s 113,269 registered voters. Fewer than 545 votes separated the top two candidates.

Redondo rode a wave of GOP support toward capturing the seat fellow Republican Juan Fernandez-Barquin vacated in June for an appointment as Miami-Dade County Clerk.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called a Special Election to replace him the following month.

Going into Election Day, Redondo was the odds-on favorite to win, based on the district’s voting history, political composition, and sizable funding advantage.

Redondo said he is “incredibly grateful” for the support that led to his victory. He added that he intends to go to Tallahassee this week to begin working toward advancing his constituents’ wishes immediately.

“And there’s no question about what they are. We all agreed during this race. It’s homeowner insurance, housing affordability — really the kitchen table issues that, in knocking on 35,000 doors in the past roughly five months we kept hearing about over and over again. It’s really about policy, not politics, and I’m really excited about the opportunity to get to work, do good work, and show my constituents the trust they placed in me is well-earned and well-placed,” he said.

Florida law prohibits state legislators from fundraising while a Session is ongoing, which could prove disadvantageous for Redondo, who has just 11 months before he’ll have to defend his seat next year.

But he said he’s fine with that since he plans to dedicate his full attention to his new lawmaking responsibilities and to deliver for HD 118 residents.

“Our exclusive focus right now is on having a productive Session and addressing the needs of the district,” he said. “But absolutely, as soon as Session is over, we’re going to start (campaigning again by) telling our constituents what we were able to do during the Session and asking for their support again.”

Farias congratulated Redondo and vowed to continue being politically involved.

“We are proud of the campaign that we ran. We showed that a campaign rooted in values and people can overcome the partisanship and bickering that has consumed politics,” he said. “We have just begun, and the fight continues. We wish Representative-elect Redondo the best.”

While their visions varied for HD 118 — a narrow, unincorporated strip of South Miami-Dade west of Florida’s Turnpike between Sweetwater and Cutler Bay — every candidate agreed high housing costs and property insurance costs were urgent issues.

HD 118 boasts some 180,000 residents, most of whom are Cuban and Republican. In the 2020 election, former President Donald Trump won the district by 17 percentage points and DeSantis won by 30 points, according to an analysis by MCI Maps.

First-time candidate Mike Redondo benefited from the generosity of a passel of elected Republicans, including House Speaker-designate Daniel Perez, who endorsed him. Image via Redondo Law Firm.

Redondo, a 38-year-old personal injury attorney and son of Cuban exiles, amassed twice as much campaign cash as Farias. Since filing for the race, he has raised nearly $194,000 between his campaign account and political committee, The Right Path for Florida. He also received almost $63,000 worth of in-kind aid from the Florida GOP, many of whose elected members chipped in four-figure donations.

Redondo also benefited from the generosity of businesses in the construction, real estate, health care, telecommunications, and sugar industries.

His campaign website lists many of the priorities GOP state lawmakers have championed in recent Sessions, including parental rights, education reform, pro-business policies, and hiring more police.

He told the Miami Herald his plans, if elected, included addressing housing unaffordability by lowering insurance rates — a seemingly Sisyphean task for the Legislature, which has held numerous Special Sessions on the matter. Redondo said he could bring a novel approach to the issue, citing his professional work with insurers.

Other priorities included fixing Miami-Dade’s persistent transportation problems in HD 118 through added state funding allocations for transit and creating more educational and training opportunities for “blue collar” workers.

Farias, a 54-year-old electrician who previously won the Redland Community Council election, said he wanted to tackle inflation and curb rising insurance premiums if elected. He also wanted to ease the financial burden for senior homeowners by creating a trust similar to the one Miami-Dade has for homeless people and pets.

Reducing traffic congestion through improved transit and adding more flood-mitigating pump stations in HD 118 were also on his list.

Johnny Farias’ fared better in his second run at HD 118 in two years, though not well enough to overcome funding and voter composition disadvantages. Image via Johnny Farias.

Farias collected over $79,000 through his campaign account this election cycle and reported no fundraising through his fully depleted political committee, Friends of Farias. An overwhelming share of his gains came through personal checks of two- to three-figure sums, many of them from people in the construction contracting industry.

He also accepted over $20,000 worth of in-kind aid, mostly from retirees who helped him with campaign mailer costs.

Meanwhile, De La Paz appeared to be in the race in name only. He created no website, reported no fundraising, and failed to file recent campaign finance reports with the Division of Elections, which showed that he filed a qualifying fee to appear on the ballot.

The 67-year-old construction executive won an unopposed bid for the county’s Kendall Community Council in 2020. He told Local 10 in August that he planned to spend upward of $10,000 on his candidacy, a sum not reflected in state records.

De La Paz told reporter Glenna Milberg over the weekend he changed his mind about how much he wanted to spend but “reached a goal” in expenditures with which he was content. He said the election was organized in “a sneaky way” to limit voter participation and that he ran primarily to inform voters the HD 118 seat was up for grabs.

“My candidacy was there from the beginning,” he said, “to make sure (people knew) we had an election.”

Farias agreed the timing of the Special Election was questionable, adding that it should have taken place in November alongside other contests for public office. Redondo was less suspicious.

“I certainly don’t think it was something people weren’t aware of,” he said.

Jesse Scheckner

Jesse Scheckner has covered South Florida with a focus on Miami-Dade County since 2012. His work has been recognized by the Hearst Foundation, Society of Professional Journalists, Florida Society of News Editors, Florida MMA Awards and Miami New Times. Email him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @JesseScheckner.


2 comments

  • Phil Morton

    December 5, 2023 at 8:20 pm

    Please note the 31 point swing towards Democrats in this race. Fernandez-Barquin won this seat by 38 points just one year ago.

    • John

      December 5, 2023 at 9:47 pm

      Please note that over 57,000 people participated in that election compared to this one where a very low 8,760 participated. Special elections are majority of the times very low turnout, take for example Mayra Flores (R) in Texas, she won the special election with low turnout but got destroyed by the Democrat in next regular election.

Comments are closed.


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