Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick will win Florida special election to replace the late Alcee Hastings, CNN projects

Cherfilus-McCormick defeated Republican Jason Mariner for the Democratic seat hard, leading with more than 78% of the vote as of 8 p.m. ET. She now heads to Washington, where she will be the first Haitian Democrat serving in Congress, according to the National Haitian American Elected Officials Network. The Democratic majority in the House of Representatives now increases to 10 before the 2022 midterm elections, when President Joe Biden’s party tries to cling to its legislative power.
Shervelous-McCormick, the businesswoman who had challenged Hastings twice unsuccessfully, was stunned when she emerged victorious in a crowded primaries in November to succeed the lawmaker who died in April. Operating on an unabashedly progressive platform while spending her own millions of dollars, Cherfilus-McCormick defeated several veteran politicians who were also vying for the seat.
The Democratic primary proved to be much closer to Tuesday’s contest. In the primaries, Cherfilus-McCormick led by the narrowest of margins — five votes — over Broward County Supervisor Dale Holness after a recount.

Cherfilus-McCormick has built her campaign around progressive policies such as “Healthcare for All” and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. It has also adopted a universal basic income, a policy popularized by former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, and has proposed offering monthly checks of $1,000 to Americans who pay tax increases for the wealthy. In Congress, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota introduced a bill to provide most Americans with a universal basic income, although it did not gain traction.

Given the area’s demographics—it’s one of only two majority-black seats in Florida—and its voting patterns (Biden won 77% of the vote there in 2020), a victory in the primaries made Cherfilus-McCormick the favorite on Tuesday’s special. general elections. She also enjoys a significant financial advantage thanks to her personal wealth. It loaned her campaign about $6 million while Mariner had raised about $100,000 as of mid-December, according to campaign finance reports.

Cherfilus-McCormick is the CEO of Trinity Health Care Services, a home health care company in Miramar. In a financial disclosure filed in December, it stated that it earned $6.4 million in 2021.

Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has scheduled the election to be held on the first day of the state’s legislative session at a time when many voters were just returning to work from the holidays.

Hastings died in April after a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. His electors, mostly black and Latino, have been without representation in the House of Representatives for 280 days since his death. Democrats have accused DeSantis of deliberately delaying the vote to deprive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of crucial votes in the narrowly divided room.

It won’t be long before Cherfilus-McCormick is forced onto the campaign trail again as she will have to defend her seat in November. First, though, she’ll have to win the nomination again. Holness, the primary opponent who finished second, has already run for the regularly scheduled Democratic primaries for the midterms, setting up a second game with Chervilus McCormick in August.

County boundaries are subject to change when Florida lawmakers finish finalizing new congressional maps this spring.

This story has been updated with additional information.


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