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After Winning Primary by 5 Votes, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is a Heavy Favorite to Head to Congress

In the special election to replace the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick prevailed by Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness and a large crowd to win the Democratic nomination in this South Florida district.

After recounts were finished on Friday and with all votes in, Cherfilus-McCormick led Holness by five votes–11,662–23.76 percent–to 11,657 votes–23.75 percent.

“I want to thank the residents of Palm Beach and Broward County for their diligence, support, and patience during this recount, we won this together. The electoral process is the bedrock of our democracy, and while long, it was necessary to ensure the integrity of every vote to strengthen the public’s trust in the democratic process,” Cherfilus-McCormick noted.

“I have been pursuing this dream for quite some time and could not have done it without the support of my family and campaign team who believed in me every step of the way. The voters’ voices and their faith in me to get the job done has helped me carry this torch to the finish line, but we are not done yet. We still have to show up in January for the general election and look forward to representing and showing up for every resident of the district,” she added.

Still, Holness shows no signs of going away and told the Jamaica Observer that he will seek a rematch in the primaries come August 2022.

The general election, where Cherfilus-McCormick will take on Republican Jason Mariner, a business owner, will be held on January 11.

A majority-minority district covering parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, this is a very secure district for Democrats. Hastings took 78 percent of the vote last year while Republican Greg Musselwhite pulled 22 percent. Joe Biden took 77 percent of the vote in this district last year while Donald Trump got 22 percent.

After taking 26 percent of the Democratic primary vote against Hastings in 2018 and 32 percent of it last year, Cherfilus-McCormick ran a third time and she and Holness outpaced the field. Holness drew heavily in Broward County taking 29 percent of the vote there while Cherfilus-McCormick pulled 21 percent, enough for second place there. But she ran away in Palm Beach County, taking 30 percent while he garnered only 8 percent there.

The rest of the field finished behind the top two Democrats. Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief stood in third with 18 percent followed by former state Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Ft. Lauderdale, who led Democrats in the Florida House during his time there and ran for his party’s nomination for attorney general back in 2014, with 15 percent.

Other candidates placed in the single digits. Former state Rep. Bobby DuBose, D-Ft. Lauderdale, who was one of his party’s co-leaders in the Florida House the past two years, pulled 7 percent. Former state Rep. Omari Hardy, D-West Palm Beach, who also served as a teacher and on the Lake Worth City Commission, took 6 percent. Priscilla Taylor, who served in the Florida House and on the Palm Beach County Commission, garnered 3.5 percent. Community activist and author Elvin Dowling, who served as the chief of staff of the National Urban League and as an aide on Capitol Hill, took 1.3 percent. Emmanuel Morel, a labor consultant who has run for Congress and for legislative office before, was back for another try and pulled 1 percent. Phil Jackson, a Navy veteran who worked in higher education, took .7 percent and Imran Uddin Siddiqui garnered .6 percent.

On the Republican side, Mariner took 58 percent, beating Musselwhite for the GOP’s nomination. But less than 6,100 Republicans voted–while more than 49,000 Democrats did, showing how blue this district is.

Musselwhite broke 20 percent against Hastings in 2020–no mean feat considering the Democrat had no opposition in 2018 and took more than 80 percent in 2016 and 2014.

In the meantime, economist and law enforcement officer Mike ter Maat is running on the Libertarian line while Jim Flynn and Lenny Serratore are running with no party affiliation. Shelley Fain is running as a write-in candidate.


  • Kevin Derby

    Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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