Monroe County Republicans are taking some heat from their own members in light of the local party’s recent endorsement of a candidate for supervisor of elections, which some say was done without the necessary 60% or two-thirds majority needed for the vote. Other Keys Republicans have said it’s improper for the committee to endorse a candidate in the primary when there’s another Republican running. 

The Monroe County Republican Executive Committee voted April 20 to endorse its treasurer, Sherri Hodies, for supervisor of elections in the Aug. 20 primary over fellow Republican Margaret Romero of Key West.

A congratulatory announcement on the Keys GOP website calls it “the first endorsement ever given by the Monroe County Republican Executive Committee.”

But members of the executive committee, as well as other Republicans Keyswide have questioned the procedure of the vote and the fact that an endorsement occurred at all.

Whichever Republican candidate — Hodies or Romero — wins the primary will face Democrat Ron Saunders in the November general election.

“Historically, both parties leave it up to the voters in the primaries, and then once that decision is made, the parties can turn on the support for the general election,” said county Mayor Holly Raschein, who lives in the Upper Keys and spent eight years as a Republican state representative until she reached her term limits. 

“This sounds to me like favoritism; it’s not right,” said former Key West city commissioner Mark Rossi, a longtime member of the Southernmost Republican Club in Key West. “You don’t endorse a same-party candidate in a primary when you have two Republicans running. For supervisor of elections, we need someone who is stable and who will follow the rules.”

Hodies is a MAGA Republican, according to posts on her personal Facebook page, but not her campaign page.

“Aides from the White House have seen President Trump on his knees with his face to the floor and tears running down his face as he prayed for the people of the United States. … If President Trump can get on his knees and his face and cry to almighty God, you should know he was sent by God to help us save this nation,” Hodies posted in March 2020, at the start of the COVID pandemic. Photos show her at a Trump rally in a red MAGA hat.

While she has expressed faith in Monroe County elections and the retiring supervisor of elections Joyce Griffin publicly, she has questioned the results of the 2020 election in other states.

The vote to endorse

The executive committee on April 20 voted 20-18 to endorse Hodies, despite a state party rule, Rule 8, which states, “a County Executive Committee may endorse a Republican candidate in a contested primary … upon the affirmative vote of 60% of County Executive Committee present and voting at a duly called meeting, or upon the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of those present and voting at such meeting.”

The 20-18 vote means 38 members were present to vote. Sixty percent of 38 is 22.8, and two-thirds of 38 is 25.3, both of which are more than the 20 endorsement votes Hodies received.

Patrick Foley, a member of the REC, wrote to Republican Executive Committee Chair Rhonda Rebman Lopez, stating, “After a careful reading of Rule 8, the motion (to endorse Hodies) did not pass.” Foley reiterated the 60% rule in his letter. 

When reached by the Keys Weekly on April 30, Foley said he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the executive committee, but said the rule is poorly worded and open to various interpretations. 

Lopez approved the endorsement despite some committee members’ and fellow Republicans’ concerns.

Romero, a lifelong Republican and former Key West city commissioner, went to the REC meeting to oppose the motion to endorse, but was asked to leave because she isn’t a committee member. Romero had not filed any complaints or taken any action as of press time.

Neither Lopez nor Hodies responded to requests for comment via text message, email and voicemail.

Mandy Miles
Mandy Miles drops stuff, breaks things and falls down more than any adult should. An award-winning writer, reporter and columnist, she's been stringing words together in Key West since 1998. "Local news is crucial," she says. "It informs and connects a community. It prompts conversation. It gets people involved, holds people accountable. The Keys Weekly takes its responsibility seriously. Our owners are raising families in Key West & Marathon. Our writers live in the communities we cover - Key West, Marathon & the Upper Keys. We respect our readers. We question our leaders. We believe in the Florida Keys community. And we like to have a good time." Mandy's married to a saintly — and handy — fishing captain, and can't imagine living anywhere else.