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Dale Holness Will Run for Open Congressional Seat in South Florida

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With longtime U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., passing away last week at the age of 84, the race to replace him is starting to heat up.

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With longtime U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Fla., passing away last week at the age of 84, the race to replace him is starting to heat up.

On Monday, with the backing of Hastings’ son, Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, who served as the county’s mayor for a year, announced he was running in the Democratic primary. Holness appeared at an event on Monday night to announce his intentions with some local officials, including Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis and Broward Sheriff Gregory Tony, in attendance.

Holness is looking to stress his ties to Hastings, praising the late congressman in an interview with the Miami Herald. The Miami Herald also noted that Holness played up his relationship with Hastings in his speech on Monday night.

State Sen. Perry Thurston, D-Plantation, announced that he would run for the Democratic nomination last week. Attorney Marlon Onias, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard and as a police officer in Newport News, filed to run in the Democratic primary last week.

With Democratic presidential candidates getting almost 80 percent in the district in recent years, whoever wins that party’s primary will be a very heavy favorite to win the seat. Other current candidates include businessman Matt Boswell; attorney Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick who took 26 percent against Hastings in the 2018 primary and 31 percent against him in 2020; activist Emmanuel Morel who ran for the state Senate in 2016 and took 8 percent against U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., in the primary back in 2014; and Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief.

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Potential Democratic candidates include Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard, writer and businessman Elvin Dowling, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James and former state Sen. Chris Smith who led Democrats in both chambers of the Legislature.

Republican Greg Musselwhite, who took 21 percent against Hastings in November, is running again for the seat which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to set a date for the special election.


Reach Kevin Derby at



  • Originally from Jacksonville, Kevin Derby is a contributing writer for Florida Daily and covers politics across Florida.

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