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Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy to challenge Al Jacquet in HD 88

Hardy becomes the third Democrat looking to primary the incumbent.

State Rep. Al Jacquet has courted a third Democratic challenger for this House District 88 seat, as Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy announced his candidacy Tuesday.

The news was first reported by the Palm Beach Post.

“I had to weigh finishing these things in Lake Worth versus potentially accomplishing much more at the state level,” Hardy told the outlet about his decision-making process.

“Ultimately, I feel that I can do more for Lake Worth in Tallahassee than I can in City Hall.”

Hardy would have served on the Lake Worth Beach Commission until 2022. Instead, he’ll give up his seat following Nov. 2020.

Jacquet took over the seat in 2016 after former state Rep. Bobby Powell made a successful run for the state Senate.

In the 2016 Democratic primary for HD 88, Jacquet took 39 percent of the vote. That was enough to top Edwin Ferguson‘s 33 percent and Angie Gray, who earned 28 percent.

Jacquet went unchallenged during the general election in 2016 and was unopposed in 2018.

But his narrow 2016 margin appears to have Democratic candidates thinking they can oust the incumbent. Hardy is being joined by Democratic candidates Philippe Louis Jeune and Cedrick Thomas seeking to defeat Jacquet. Danielle Madsen is also mounting a challenge as a Republican.

Jacquet has put forward legislation for the upcoming Session seeking to undo implementing legislation for Amendment 4, which gave ex-felons the right to vote upon full completion of their sentence. Republican backers of the 2019 bill defined “full completion” to include payment of fines and fees owed. Jacquet wants that requirement removed.

The incumbent also pushed back against a law making texting while driving a primary offense, arguing the legislation would make racial profiling by police more prevalent.

For 2020, Jacquet has also put forward a bill to require concealed carry applicants to undergo a mental health evaluation.

But Hardy argues Jacquet is not paying enough attention to the district specifically, pointing to $600,000 in funding to combat sea-level rise that was lost.

“We’re carrying last year’s baggage into this year because someone didn’t do their job,” Hardy told the Palm Beach Post.

HD 88 covers parts of Palm Beach County including Lake Park, Riviera Beach and Lake Worth Beach.

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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