By Kevin Deutsch
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a lawyer and health care executive who outspent competitors by putting millions of her own money toward her congressional campaign, has won the Democratic Primary for the 20th Congressional District, officials said Saturday.
In a race that took ten days and multiple recounts to decide, McCormick defeated Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness by five votes – 11,662 to 11,657.
None of the nine other Democrats in the crowded primary field approached Cherfilus-McCormick or Holness’s vote totals to replace the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings.
The election result must still be certified by the state’s Elections Canvassing Commission. Holness has not said whether he will challenge the primary results.
“I am proud to be recognized tonight as the Democratic nominee for Florida’s 20th Congressional District following Alcee Hastings’ legacy of fighting for the rights and welfare of the common person,” Cherfilus-McCormick said on Twitter. “This is an enormous honor to carry.”
“I have been pursuing this dream for quite some time and could not have done it without the support of my family and campaign team, who stayed and believed in me every step of the way,” said the presumptive nominee who previously ran against Hastings.
“The voters’ voices and their faith in me to get the job done has helped me carry this torch to the finish line, but we are not done yet. We still have to show up in January for the general election and look forward to representing and showing up for everyone in the district.”
The centerpiece of Cherfilus-McCormick’s campaign: her plan to give a monthly $1,000 federal payment to every American over 18 making less than $75,000 a year. Such a plan is unlikely to become law in a divided Congress.
Cherfilus-McCormick’s election would make history; she would be the first Haitian-American member to represent South Florida in the U.S. Congress.
She will square off against Republican Jason Mariner, a first-time candidate and recovering drug addict who defeated Greg Musselwhite. Several independent candidates and a libertarian will also be on the ballot.
Cherfilus-McCormick is expected to secure an easy victory in the overwhelmingly Democratic district, covering Tamarac, Lauderhill, Lauderdale Lakes, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Belle Glade.
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- Kevin Deutsch is an award-winning crime journalist and author. A graduate of Florida International University, Kevin has worked on staff at The Miami Herald, New York Daily News, and The Palm Beach Post.