BROWARD COUNTY, Fla. – Voters are heading to the polls in parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties Tuesday to decide who will fill the U.S. Congressional seat once held by the late Democrat Alcee Hastings.
The special election for House District 20 is pitting the Democratic candidate, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick against her Republican rival, Jason Mariner.
Democrats have a huge advantage as Democrats outnumber Republicans by a nearly 5-1 ratio in the district.
In early voting, Democrats have already cast nearly six times as many ballots as Republicans.
Cherfilus-McCormick won the crowded Democratic primary by a razor-thin margin (just five votes) after promising voters monthly, thousand-dollar stimulus checks.
The Broward healthcare executive also spent some $4 million on her own campaign -- something she addressed following her primary win.
“The money we invested was to make sure we could touch the people of the community,” she said. “But the money did not determine this election, because most people who put a lot of money into their campaigns – they don’t win.”
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Her challenger appeared on “This Week in South Florida” over the weekend, calling the proposed stimulus checks unrealistic.
“I think it’s not only unlikely that Congress would ever agree to it, I think it’s impossible, and heaven forbid it were to happen. It would be driving inflation even higher,” Mariner said.
The winner will replace Hastings, who died of pancreatic cancer last April.
“I just think it’s important to vote in any election, whether it be national or local,” Broward County voter Leah Jackson said.
The election comes just one day after local leaders toured the postal processing facility in Opa-locka following problems during the primary that caused hundreds of ballots not to be counted.
“We had a situation back in November that was decided by only five votes. And then we received 287 ballots that were postmarked before the date of the election,” Broward Supervisor of Elections Joe Scott said.
Officials reassured voters that they can trust the vote-by-mail system.
“With some prodding, we were able to get them to agree to more communication and dialogue,” Democratic U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said.