Ending an unusual string of eight special elections for legislative seats, South Miami Democrat Javier Fernandez and Polk City Republican Josie Tomkow are headed to the Florida House.
With 91 percent of the precincts reporting Tuesday night, Fernandez had captured nearly 51 percent of the vote as Democrats declared victory in a special election in Miami-Dade County’s House District 114. Meanwhile, with all precincts reporting, Tomkow picked up 60 percent of the vote as she easily won in House District 39 in Polk and Osceola counties, according to totals posted on the state Division of Elections website.
The race in Miami-Dade was closely watched as Democrats sought to hold onto a seat that was left vacant late last year when former Rep. Daisy Baez, a Coral Gables Democrat, resigned after pleading guilty to a perjury charge in an investigation into her residency. Republican Andrew Vargas had received nearly 47 percent of the vote Tuesday night, while unaffiliated candidate Liz de las Cuevas got more than 2 percent.
Fernandez issued a statement through the Florida Democratic Party saying he is “beyond grateful to be chosen to serve the people in the community I love.” Fernandez raised $267,721 for the race, while Vargas brought in $293,973, finance reports show.
“I am proud of the campaign we ran, we spoke to people about issues in our community, about improving our public schools, protecting our children from gun violence, improving Florida’s infrastructure and taking real action to deal with climate change,” Fernandez said in the statement.
Tomkow, meanwhile, had an easier time defeating Kathleen Democrat Ricky Shirah. She will replace former Rep. Neil Combee, an Auburndale Republican who resigned last year to take a job in the Donald Trump administration. Tomkow raised $168,185 for the race, while Shirah raised $9,381.
Tuesday’s elections finished a series of special elections that started in September and stemmed from the resignations of House members and senators. In the end, two seats flipped in the elections. Democrat Annette Taddeo won in Miami-Dade’s Senate District 40, a seat that opened when former Sen. Frank Artiles, a Miami Republican, resigned. Also, Democrat Margaret Good won in Sarasota County’s House District 72, a seat that opened when former Rep. Alex Miller, a Sarasota Republican, resigned.
The other winners of the special elections were Republican Daniel Perez in Miami-Dade’s House District 116; Winter Garden Republican Bobby Olszewski in Orange County’s House District 44; Dover Republican Lawrence McClure in Hillsborough County’s House District 58; and Lantana Democrat Lori Berman in Palm Beach County’s Senate District 31.