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Hastings’ death shrinks demographic majority and sparks race for his seat

The list includes some of South Florida’s most prominent black politicians.

“I join with a heavy heart the South Florida community in mourning the passing of Congressman Alcee Hastings,” said Senator Perry Thurston, Democrat of Fort Lauderdale. “He was a mentor, friend and brother of the fellowship, and I offer my deepest condolences to his family.

Asked by POLITICO about the now open seat, Thurston replied: “Yes. I’m running. “

If Thurston tables documents to run, he will likely have to resign from the state Senate, which will trigger a big domino, as he is next in line to lead the House Democratic caucus.

However, many of those timelines are uncertain as Gov. Ron DeSantis has yet to set a special election date, which will help solidify the timeline for qualifying candidates.

State Senator Bobby Powell is also considering an offer, but said he was not yet ready to make a decision as he mourned the passing of Hastings.

“I am concerned for his family and have yet to make a decision on where to hold Congress,” Powell told POLITICO in a text message.

Other first candidates on the shortlist, according to several people POLITICO spoke with about the race, include Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dale Holness, State Representative Omari Hardy and Broward County Commissioner Barbara Muhammad Sharief, who was previously the county’s first Muslim mayor.

In a statement Tuesday, Holness called Hastings “a true leader and a blessing in our community.”

While Florida Democrats wait for DeSantis to set a date, the slim majority of House Democrats will be even thinner. After elected Representative Julia Letlow (R-La.) Is sworn in next Tuesday, the House balance will drop to 218 Democrats and 212 Republicans. This means that President Nancy Pelosi can only afford to lose two of her members if she tries to pass legislation on online voting.

And Democrats hope to tackle Biden’s infrastructure and immigration bill soon – issues that could inspire both moderate Democratic and progressive MPs to defect.

But with several special elections coming up, the makeup of the House will continue to shift over the coming months. Still, the Democrats’ two-seat majority won’t change until the end of April at the earliest, when they fill one of the other five vacancies.

The second round for the safe blue seat of former Rep. Cedric Richmond in Louisiana will not take place until April 24. The race is between two Democratic senators and will bring House Democrats to a three-seat majority once the winner is sworn in.

New Mexico is not holding a special to occupy the former seat of Home Secretary Deb Haaland until June 1. And Ohio Democrats will wait until November to pick a replacement in Congress for current Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge.

There is only one vacancy with a potentially competitive special election: the race for Texas’ 6th District on May 1. The late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Texas), who died after a battle with cancer and Covid, won the North Texas District by 9 points in 2020. But the suburban neighborhood has been oriented towards Democrats in recent years; Former President Donald Trump lifted it by just 3 points in 2020 after winning by 12 points four years earlier.

And this race is unlikely to be settled soon. If no candidate gets 50 percent in the multi-party game next month, the race advances to a second round that has yet to be scheduled – a likely scenario given that 23 candidates have come forward to run.

Bottom line: Congress won’t have a plenary assembly until at least November, and Pelosi will need almost complete democratic unity to achieve political victories.

For now, Pelosi mourns the passing of the sometimes controversial Hastings, who was Florida’s first black federal judge. before being dismissed and dismissed from his post for allegations, he conspired to accept a bribe of $ 150,000. Three years later, in 1992, he defeated now-Rep. Lois Frankel in a primary for the seat of Congress he held until his death.

“Congressman Hastings leaves behind a powerful legacy of activism and action on behalf of Floridians and all Americans,” Pelosi said in a statement. “His leadership and friendship will be missed by his many friends in Congress.”

Matt Dixon reported from Florida and Ally Mutnick reported from Washington. Melanie Zanona contributed to this report.

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