The Special Primary Election in House District 88 will feature a one-on-one battle Tuesday between Jervonte “Tae” Edmonds and Clarence “Chief” Williams.
Both candidates are competing to be the Democratic nominee — and a heavy General Election favorite — in the left-leaning district in Palm Beach County.
Edmonds is the founder of the mentoring program Suits For Seniors. Williams is a former Riviera Beach police chief.
The HD 88 seat opened when Democratic Rep. Omari Hardy decided to run in a different Special Election, as he pursued the open seat in Florida’s 20th Congressional District. Hardy’s bid to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings — who passed away last year following a cancer battle — fell short. But Florida law requires elected officials to resign their position to compete in another election contest. Hardy did just that in late July, well before the CD 20 Special Election, leaving his seat open effective Tuesday.
That led Edmonds, Williams and West Palm Beach police lieutenant Rick King to file in the Special Democratic Primary Election. King, however, failed to qualify, leaving Edmonds and Williams to duke it out one-on-one Tuesday.
The district spans parts of Palm Beach County, including Lake Park, Riviera Beach and Mangonia Park.
Edmonds previously served as a legislative aide to former Rep. Al Jacquet, who held the HD 88 seat before Hardy ousted him in 2020. Edmonds also worked as a legislative aide to Sen. Bobby Powell.
Williams worked as a lawyer before moving to Florida and serving as the Riviera Beach police chief for 16 years.
While the winner of Tuesday’s contest will be all-but-assured the seat in the deep-blue district, the winner will still have to compete in a General Election contest scheduled for March 8. That’s because long-shot Republican candidate Guarina Torres also qualified in the contest, forcing a General Election.
Because Gov. Ron DeSantis scheduled these contests several months after Hardy resigned, the HD 88 seat will mostly go unfilled this Legislative Session. The 2022 Session also begins Tuesday and is expected to end just days after the Special General Election. That will deprive constituents in HD 88 — as well as those in Senate District 33, which also holds a Special Election Tuesday — from having an elected official directly represent them in the Legislature this Session.
The winner of the HD 88 seat will need to seek re-election again in 2022 during the regular election cycle. However, the state’s redistricting process means the district boundaries — and number — could change before those election contests later this year.