Omari Hardy ousts Al Jacquet in HD 88 Democratic primary

HD 88 - Hardy
The race featured several nasty incidents, including Jacquet directing a homophobic slur at Hardy.

Lake Worth Beach Commissioner Omari Hardy defeated Democratic Rep. Al Jacquet Tuesday after Jacquet faced multiple controversies in the House District 88 contest.

The five-person field also included radio host Philippe “Bob” Louis Jeune, lawyer Sienna Osta and former Riviera Beach Councilman Cedrick Thomas.

With most results reported in Palm Beach County, Hardy received 43% of the vote to Jacquet’s 26%. Thomas collected 19% support, followed by Osta at 8% and Jeune at 3%.

Jacquet’s final financial reports showed he spent $0 on his reelection bid despite holding close to $40,000 in his campaign account.

The report perplexingly does not include Jacquet’s filing fee, which he claims to have paid from his campaign account. Hardy filed a complaint alleging that payment came from Jacquet’s personal funds, which violates Florida election law.

Still, no other expenditures are listed for Jacquet. The odd strategy came as Jacquet faced numerous questions surrounding the location of his district office and after he faced fines over campaign violations. The incumbent also lost his status as the ranking member of the Rules Committee after he directed a homophobic slur at Hardy during the campaign.

Yet Jacquet banked simply on name recognition and his ties to the House District 88 Haitian community to hold onto his seat. That strategy failed.

Hardy gained some national attention after erupting at a Lake Worth Beach Commission meeting in late March over the handling of the COVID-19 outbreak. Though it was early in the pandemic, Hardy warned the panel it needed to take more serious action to protect the public.

“We could’ve banned large gatherings. We could’ve closed the beach. We could’ve put a moratorium on utility shutoffs,” Hardy said.

Hardy’s criticism prompted pushback from the Mayor and other officials who attempted to halt the meeting.

“This is a banana republic is what you’re turning this place into with your so-called leadership,” Hardy retorted in a shouting match with Mayor Pam Triolo.

In February, Hardy and Jacquet went back and forth after Jacquet labeled Hardy a “batty boy.” The derogatory term is used as a slur in the Caribbean to describe a gay person.

Jacquet made the comments as part of his radio show on Sak Pase FM, which was also broadcast on his personal Facebook page.

After facing rebukes from several of his House Democratic colleagues, Jacquet stepped down from his spot on the Rules Committee.

“In the heat of the moment, I said something I should not have said,” Jacquet added. “I apologize for my words that have offended some of my colleagues.”

Months later, Hardy accused Jacquet of lobbing another anti-gay slur his way while Jacquet called into Sak Pase FM, prompting a wave of Democrats to endorse Hardy. Jacquet denied using the term and the station, which hosts Jacquet’s show, disputed the accusation.

“This account is 100% false,” read a letter from the station. “It did not happen. It would not happen. It could not happen. Our station airs paid ads for small businesses throughout this region as well as political ads. We would not jeopardize the integrity of this station to allow someone to disparage one of our paid customers in such a negative way. The ethics of our radio station would not tolerate that.”

Jacquet’s previous slur, which was caught on a recording, did air on that same station, however.

Hardy will face Republican Danielle Madsen and no-party-affiliated candidate Rubin Anderson in the General Election.

Ryan Nicol

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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