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Florida Keys Shift Red With Republican Victories

Scott Cates campaigns in Key West for his brother, former Key West Mayor Craig Cates, who won a seat on the Monroe County Commission.
Nancy Klingener
Scott Cates campaigns in Key West Tuesday for his "baby brother" — former Key West Mayor Craig Cates, who won a seat on the Monroe County Commission.

Republicans did well throughout Monroe County on Election Day, keeping the seat for the island chain's only member of the state House of Representatives and provisionally taking all the seats on the county commission.

The race between incumbent Commissioner Heather Carruthers, a Democrat, was extremely close, with Republican Eddie Martinez leading by 41 votes — a 50.15% to 49.85% margin.

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Monroe Supervisor of Elections Joyce Griffin wrote in an email Tuesday night that there would be mandatory recount of Tuesday's results.

The results were more clear-cut in the other two county commission races, where two leaders of Keys cities won countywide.

Former Key West Mayor Craig Cates won his first term in office, defeating Annalise Mannix by 59 to 41%. Cates has been serving on the commission since December of last year, when Gov. Ron DeSantis appointed him to fill the term of Danny Kolhage, who stepped down early.

And Islamorada Mayor Mike Forster, also a Republican, defeated independent Jose Peixeto by 67 to 33%.

Also extremely close was the race for Key West city commission district 6, where incumbent Clayton Lopez had a 19-vote lead over challenger Ryan Barnett. Because there are far fewer voters than in the commission race, his percentage lead is larger — 50.45 to 49.55%.

Lopez has been on the Key West city commission since 2005 and is running for a final four-year term before term limits kick in. He is the only Black member of the seven-member city commission.

And with all precincts reported for both counties in the state House District 120, Republican Jim Mooney, a member of the Islamorada Village Council, had a commanding 55 to 45% lead over Democrat Clint Barras, who leads a Key West Internet marketing company.

And Monroe State Attorney Dennis Ward, a Republican, easily won another term in office. He defeated challenger Donald Barrett, by 58 to 41%.

As was the case four years ago, Keys voters also favored the Republican party at the top of the ticket — by a larger margin this time. Incumbent President Donald Trump won the majority of Keys votes, with 53% compared to 45% for former Vice President Joe Biden.

Nancy Klingener was WLRN's Florida Keys reporter until July 2022.
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