Voters in Broward County have one item on the ballot come Election Day on Tuesday: to select the person to fill the spot of legendary Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings.
Rev. Elvin Dowling considered Hastings his mentor while working as his congressional aide back in the 1990’s.
His time in Washington, and as an executive with the National Urban League, he says, were good training grounds for Congress.
Dowling is one of 11 Democrats on the ballot. Two Republicans are as well, Jason Mariner and Greg Musselwhite, though their chances of winning are dim.
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Congressional District 20 stretches from Miramar into Palm Beach County and is solid Democrat and has been for years. Tuesday’s Democratic Primary winner will likely take the seat.
"A lot of people think that’s that’s why our politics are so polarized in this country, because there are so many people in Congress that are not in competitive districts,” said NBC 6 political analyst Carlos Curbelo. "Once they get past the primary they are pretty much done."
Other candidates are familiar faces in Broward politics.
Lauderhill State Senator Perry Thurston first served in the State House, and like all other elected officials in the race, he resigned his seat to run for Congress.
He says healthcare should be Washington’s top priority.
"All the things that I want to see accomplished in education and civil and criminal justice and voting rights, all those things could come to a screeching halt if we don’t get ahead of the pandemic and provide people affordable, reasonable healthcare," Thurston said.
The candidates are mostly on board with democratic positions on issues like climate change, immigration, the economy and taxes.
Broward Commissioners Dale Holness and Barbara Shafief also left their positions in local government in order to run.
Sharief has been in politics 13 years and believes that works to her advantage.
"They are not reelecting the same people, I am going to be serving in a different level of government which is new to me,” she said. "People act like experience is a bad thing."
Holness, if elected, says he would be the first Jamaican-born member of Congress. And like Shafief, he also touts his extensive years in local government.
A focus on the economy, Holness says, would lead to a better quality of life for people in the district.
"We have got to sell more of our stuff to the rest of the world, whether it be goods or services, that is how we are going to continue to lift and grow our economy and bring people into prosperity," Holness said. "If anyone travels, they will see that China is outperforming us in selling their goods and services to the rest of the world, we must really focus on that."
One of the more progressive candidates in the field is Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, a healthcare executive and advocate. A pillar of her campaign is called the Peoples Prosperity Plan, which would give$1,000 a month for adults making less than $75,000 a year.
"It is not a step toward any kind of Socialism, but really it’s a temporary solution to help us come out,” she said. "There’s nothing different than what we see going on with the child income tax credit, The child income tax credit has helped more than 50% of children come out of poverty, 50."
Fort Lauderdale State Rep. Bobby Dubose is one state lawmaker ready to go from Tallahassee to DC.
As a member of Democratic Party leadership, he insists he’s seasoned and ready for rough and tumble politics in Washington.
“Here I am, I’m battle-tested again in a very similar toxic climate where we had to fight Jim Crow 2.0, but I was still able to effectively pass legislation,” said Dubose. "I want to take that experience to DC and do the same."
Other candidates in the race include State Rep. Omari Hardy, Phil Jackson, Emmanuel Morel, Dr. Imran Uddin Siddiqui and Priscilla Ann Taylor.