Q&A – Florida’s Special Election To Fill The Late Alcee Hastings Seat
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Today’s entry: Brian, I’ve been kind of surprised that there hasn’t been more conversation about the election to replace Alcee Hastings in Congress. I can’t remember so many elected officials vying for the same office before which speaks to the perceived importance and opportunity for a seat which will only be held for a year by the winner. As you’ve pointed out Florida’s Democrats have voted in lockstep with Biden’s agenda but at the same time, we’ve seen the strong differences within the party with the ongoing battle between the “progressives” and so-called moderates on the left in Congress. Even if the most likely outcome occurs with a Democrat holding this seat, it clearly matters as to if they’re a “squad” type or more moderate.
Bottom Line: All good points. Tomorrow’s special election in Florida’s 20th Congressional District to replace the late Alcee Hastings in Congress hasn’t drawn a total of 16 candidates (12 Democrats, two Republicans, a Libertarian and two NPA’s) who qualified for the ballot for nothing. And as you referenced, we have a total of five current elected officials – two Broward County Commissioners – Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief – two state representatives, Bobby DuBose and Omari Hardy – and a State Senator Perry Thurston. Additionally, Priscilla Taylor is a former Palm Beach County Commissioner. While not spending a great deal of time discussing the nuances of these primary elections, I’ve been actively watching what’s happening with an open interest in which candidates emerge victorious for the very reasons you mentioned.
The most likely outcome in this deep blue district is a Democrat emerging victorious in the general election, though I’ll never discount the improbable either – especially in a time in which the political headwinds for Democrats appear to be enormous after a disastrous start to the Biden Presidency which has resulted in the largest first year drop in approval polling of a president in American history. Anyway, we’ve seen in this year’s Congress that not all Democrats are created equal. It was always an over-simplification, however historically Republicans have had far more members who didn’t toe the party line on key votes. There are far too many examples to cite but one’s an easy illustration of this. The Democrats managing to get everyone of their senators on board (which was needed) to pass the Affordable Care Act in 2009 – with the Republicans failing to do so by one (John McCain) to repeal it in 2017.
If you’re a longtime listener, you’ll likely recall my having talked in recent years about the similarities with the battle between establishment Republicans and Tea Party Republicans until the rise of Trump in 2016 and what we’ve being seeing in recent years with the rise of the “Squad” and what’s become known as the Progressive Caucus. The Progressive Caucus now largest caucus in the House of Representatives with 96 members currently. As we know they’ve been driving the agenda to radically overhaul the United States from a system based on regulated free enterprise and capitalism to one of government dependency and quasi-socialism. That’s what the reconciliation bill is all about. Notably, as we look at Florida’s Congressional delegation, which has voted literally 100% of the time with Joe Biden’s agenda to date, there’s representation within this caucus.
Two of Florida’s congressional representatives are members of the Progressive Caucus. Lois Frankel, ironically my congressman who couldn’t be less representative of my interests, and Frederica Wilson. The question is will they be joined by a third Squad-like member, or someone perhaps a bit more pragmatic that might hold the line against the radical transformation of our country? Just as it’s hard to know who’s stands where in this primary race, and it’s anybody’s guess until the votes are in tomorrow night, it’s also somewhat unclear to find all of the lines of delineation between the candidates themselves. However, we do know who the most radical, aka, progressive is. Omari Hardy. He’s received funding from the same sources as those who funded the campaigns of squad members, he’s denounced Israel and taken up for Palestinians a la the squad members and he’s taken on the moderates in Congress repeatedly. There is no doubt about who he is and where he stands. Incidentally, Omari was also endorsed by the Sun Sentinel’s editorial board which also shows you that the Sun Sentinel not only provides space for anti-Semitism, but they pay people to provide it in their publication. In a separate topic the Sun Sentinel should be made to account for their willingness to support and pay for those who support the BDS movement - especially with one of the largest Jewish populations in the country in South Florida.
As for the others, because the lead candidates are office holders, they have records. Perry Thurston received a 33% score in the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s annual report card. Incidentally, Hardy received a 38% score so that’s instructive given how far left he tends to vote. There’s also Bobby DuBose who received a 52% - meaning he’s more moderate than Thurston or Hardy. Then you have the records in county commissioners of Holness, Shariff and Taylor. There are small differences among the three. On the Republican side of the isle there’s much less to sort through. Welder Greg Musselwhite or recovered addict and businessman Jason Mariner.
The point, to your point, is that this primary election matters significantly. To those represented in the district and potentially everyone in the country given tight margins on key votes in Congress. Just as it’s long been known that not all Republicans are created equal, it’s as clear as it’s been in our lifetimes that not all Democrats are either.