U.S. House of Representatives election in Florida: Democrats have a huge advantage

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick won the Democratic nomination for a Congressional seat in South Florida by five voices last november. She hopes Tuesday’s general election won’t be so close.

Healthcare company CEO Cherfilus-McCormick faces Republican Jason Mariner in special election for Democrat seat Representative of the United States, Alcee Hastings, died last April of pancreatic cancer. Before his death, Hastings was the longest-serving member of the Florida congressional delegation.

Cherfilus-McCormick is now the big favorite to win the seat after winning less than 24% of the primary vote in an 11-candidate race. Democrats outnumber Republicans in a nearly 5-1 ratio in the district, which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. And Cherfilus-McCormick far surpassed Mariner, who also faced questions about his record as a convicted felon, even though he legally qualified to run.

Even if she wins, Cherfilus-McCormick will have to compete in another primary in August if she wants a chance for a full term.

Reclaiming Hastings’ seat would bring the slim Democratic House majority to 222-212, leaving no more room for four Democratic defections as Speaker Nancy Pelosi tries to push her party’s bills through the House . For much of 2021, that margin was three.

The victory, however, would make little difference to the Democrats’ $ 2 trillion social and environmental bill, now stuck in the equally divided Senate over objections from West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin. The package meets with the unanimity of Republicans.

There’s another vacancy in the House: Republican U.S. Representative Devin Nunes of California left office last week to join a media company run by former President Donald Trump.

Cherfilus-McCormick finalist in the November primary, Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, has followed in an attempt to overturn the election results. He also plans to participate in the August primary.

For Tuesday’s general election, the demographics of House District 20 work in favor of Cherfilus-McCormick, who is the black daughter of Haitian immigrants. About half of the constituency’s voters are black, compared to about 21% white. Mariner is white.

Cherfilus-McCormick also has a financial advantage. She loaned nearly $ 6 million to her campaign, but repaid herself $ 2 million. Yet at the end of December, she had $ 1.3 million in her campaign account, compared to less than $ 24,000 for Mariner.

Mariner owns an advertising company that pays drivers to place ads on their cars. He served two prison terms totaling almost two years. He was last released in 2013 after convictions for drug trafficking and theft, according to the Department of Corrections.

Mariner’s campaign website said he had conquered drug addiction and co-founded a drug and alcohol rehab center.

While some people questioned whether he could run for office because of the felony convictions, voters in Florida passed a constitutional amendment giving criminals the right to vote. The law implementing the amendment stipulates that all court costs, fines and restitution must be paid before voting rights are reinstated.

When Mariner registered to vote, he checked a box indicating he had previously been convicted of a felony, but his voting rights had been restored, said Wendy Sartory Link, Palm Beach County Election Supervisor .

“As far as we are concerned, he is a duly registered voter because no one has told us otherwise. In terms of his ability to perform his duties, this is a legal opinion. It’s not part of what we do, ”she said.

Early voting indicated low turnout, with Democrats casting nearly six times as many ballots as Republicans. As the weekend approached, the turnout was around 7%.

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Associated Press writer Alan Fram in Washington contributed to this report.

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