It’s the forgotten race of 2021.
Although Hastings died back in April, his seat has remained open, and the general election contest won’t take place until January 11th of 2022.
FL-20 comprises sections of Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, resulting in a D+28 district where over half the population is Black. So when Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced in May that the seat wouldn’t be filled until 2022, Democrats were furious at the not-so-subtle move to cap Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s already thin majority.
Nevertheless, a crowded field of Democratic candidates are battling for this golden opportunity to occupy a safe Congressional seat for the foreseeable future. So let’s take a look at the seven major Democratic hopefuls (in alphabetical order).
A perennial candidate that attempted two long-shot primary contests against Hastings in 2018 and 2020, Chefilus-McCormick is betting that this is finally her year. She’s hoping to ride the stimulus-check wave by proposing $1,000 a month for every adult making less than $75,000 a year. Cherfilus-McCormick also secured the support of the local Communications Workers of America.
As a State Rep and the Florida House Minority Leader, DuBose is the highest-ranking official in this race. Given that elected officials in Florida have to deal with a Resign-to-Run Law, that means DuBose also has the most to lose. His campaign launch video puts his biography front and center, emphasizing that he is a life-long resident of the area.
First-term State Rep. Hardy is running as a progressive insurgent who supports Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. According to Hardy, his platform “isn’t imitating AOC, it’s responding to what I see, and honoring the legacy of Alcee.” Additionally, the 31 year-old from Palm Beach was able to win the endorsement of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
In both surveys of this race, an April PPP poll and a July Data for Progress poll, Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness emerged the leader. Not only that, Hastings’ son and namesake, Alcee Hastings II, is publicly supporting Holness as his father’s natural successor. Combine all that with the endorsement of the Florida SEIU, and it’s apparent that Holness is the front-runner in this contest.
Sharief is yet another Broward County Commissioner in this primary. She secured the support of three of her fellow Commissioners, who chose her over Holness, and came in second in that Data for Progress survey. Sharief is also a nurse who is emphasizing her healthcare experience in her ads.
While most of these candidates live in the Broward County section of the district, Taylor is an ex-Palm Beach County Commissioner and former State Rep. She briefly attempted a primary challenge of Congressman Patrick Murphy in 2016, but ended up dropping out early.
Thurston was actually Bobby DuBose’s predecessor in the State House. In fact, Thurston was even House Minority Leader too from 2012 to 2014. After coming up short in the 2014 primary for state Attorney General, he won a State Senate seat in 2016. Despite being in line to become the Senate Minority Leader after 2022, Thurston decided to risk it all for this race.
On the whole, it’s a pretty wide open contest. Polling and local media suggest Holness and Sharief are the top contenders. If Hardy can take advantage of his progressive bonafides, and consolidate the Palm Beach vote, he could pull off an upset. Ultimately, though, the race is fluid enough that no outcome can really be ruled out.