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Hastings’ death triggers race for his Congressional seat

The death Tuesday morning of Democratic Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings, ambitious South Florida Democrats have the opportunity to take a step up from local politics to the national scene, Politico reports.

Hastings, 84, died after a fight with pancreatic cancer.  He represented Florida’s 20th Congressional District, a heavily-Black district comprised of parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties.  While the district is unlikely to flip to a Republican representative, the scheduling of the special election to replace Hastings will be at the discretion of Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who could delay it as long as possible to keep a thinner Democratic majority in the US House.

Many Black South Florida Democrats may be in the running for Hastings’ seat, including some whose declaration to run would cause a domino effect in local politics. 

State Senator Perry Thurston, a Fort Lauderdale Democrat who is the heir apparent to head the Democratic caucus in the state senate, is expected to vie for the position.  Per Florida law, if he runs, he would have to step down from his seat in the senate.

Others said to be considering a campaign are State Senator Bobby Powell, former Broward County Mayor Dale Holness, State Senator Shevrin Jones, State Legislator Omari Hardy and Broward County Commissioner Barbara Muhammad Sharief.

There are currently four other open seats in the House, three of which are in safe Democratic districts in Louisiana, Ohio and New Mexico, all of which opened up because the incumbent took positions in the Biden White House.  Another seat, in North Texas, opened after Republican Ron Wright died of COVID and cancer; that race, in a suburban district, is expected to be close as Donald Trump only carried the district by three percentage points in 2020.

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