Broward Commissioner Dale Holness to join Special Election to replace Alcee Hastings

A Special Election will be held to replace Hastings, who passed away last week following a battle with cancer.

Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness is stepping into the race to replace the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, adding to what’s expected to be a crowded Special Election field.

Holness, who served as Broward County Mayor last year, announced his decision Monday night.

“Congressman Hastings memory was an inspiration to all who knew him,” Holness said. “I am humbled by the opportunity to follow in his shoes.”

Holness received a boost in his bid as Hastings’ son, Alcee Hastings II, joined Holness at Monday’s event to support his candidacy.

“My dad would even say this if he were alive today: Dale has the grit, the perseverance, the determination, the compassion to continue his legacy of fighting for justice and fighting for equality for all,” Hastings II said.

Thus far, only a handful of candidates have formally declared their desire to replace Hastings in Florida’s 20th Congressional District. Fellow County Commissioner Barbara Sharief and former CD 20 candidate Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick both filed to run as Democrats before Hastings’ death.

Since Hastings’ death last week, Matt Boswell, Greg Musselwhite and Marlon Onias have all jumped in as well. Other rumored candidates include state Sens. Shevrin Jones, Bobby Powell and Perry Thurston, state Reps. Bobby DuBose and Omari Hardy, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard and others.

CD 20 spans Broward and Palm Beach counties, crossing several majority-Black areas near major cities such as Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The district is also home for many Caribbean communities. The Jamaican-born Holness could have an advantage in that key demographic in a Democratic primary.

With Hastings’ son also supporting his bid, that puts Holness in a prime position for the Democratic nomination.

Holness has represented District 9 on the Broward County Commission since first winning election in 2010. He served as a Lauderhill City Commissioner and Vice Mayor.

In 2019, Holness served as Broward’s Vice Mayor before taking over the mayoral role in 2020. Holness served as Mayor of Florida’s second most populous county during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While Holness and other candidates have begun lining up for the CD 20 Special Election, it’s still unknown when that election will take place. Florida law gives Gov. Ron DeSantis the authority to set a date and time for the Primary and General Election contests. If DeSantis acts on a similar timeline as governors during recent vacancies, Hastings’ seat will likely be filled by this summer.

What is nearly certain is that a Democrat will be the one to succeed Hastings. Hastings won 79% of the vote in 2020. According to analysis by MCI Maps, Democrat Joe Biden won 77% of the vote in CD 20 last cycle. In 2016, then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton won just under 80%.

That makes Holness’ entry one to watch. He’s considered a leading Democratic contender, and the Democratic primary will serve as the de facto election in the heavily Democratic district.

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 [email protected].


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