Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced Tuesday that he would sign an executive order to set the date for the special election to replace recently deceased Congressman Alcee Hastings who represented Florida’s 20th Congressional District. The date scheduled for the special primary election is Tuesday, November 2nd, 2021. The special general election with be held Tuesday, January 11th, 2022.
Since the death of Hastings, Democrats have been pressing DeSantis to set the dates for the special election. One candidate, Rev. Elvin Dowling, filed a federal lawsuit to force DeSantis into setting the date. In past circumstances when a special election was necessary, the average amount of time between a seat becoming vacant and being filled is approximately 4 months, whereas the seat left vacant by Hastings will remain unfilled for approximately 9 months.
Dowling, along with other Democrats in Congress have expressed the view that the delay in setting a date is intentional, and meant to extend the time in which representation by a Democratic seat in Congress is vacant. The supervisor of elections in both Palm Beach and Broward counties that make up District 20, asked DeSantis for an August 31st special primary and a November 2nd special general election, but the dates were denied.
As of press time, 10 individuals are pursuing Hasting’s seat, six of whom are current or former elected officials including Minority Leader of the Florida House, Bobby DuBose; State Senator for the 33rd District, Perry E. Thurston Jr.; and former State Rep. Priscilla Taylor, to name a few.
Florida’s District 20 is the 23rd most Democratic district in the nation, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) of D+31. The general election results in 2014 and 2016 show that the incumbent Alcee Hastings beat the Republican candidate by an average margin of about 62%. In 2018, Hastings ran unopposed.
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Casey Owens is a writer at The Florida Capital Star. Follow him on Twitter at @cowensreports. Email tips to [email protected]