McCormick
Opinion

To Succeed Alcee Hastings: Vote Sheila McCormick

When the late Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Florida, died on April 6, 2021, the Floridian congressional delegation lost a giant. 

To hold Hastings’s seat, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick was recently elected to be the Democratic nominee come next year’s general election. However, Alcee Hastings’s legacy will not be an easy one to follow.

Hastings was a dedicated public servant who devoted himself more to the people of his district than to enriching himself. He was even named the poorest member of Congress as recently as 2018. 

He rose from rampant segregation growing up in Altamonte Springs, Florida, until he became the first Black federal judge in Florida and the dean (longest-serving member) of Florida’s congressional delegation.

Over several decades of public service — including nearly 30 years spent in the House of Representatives — Hastings made himself known as a voracious debater for the causes he was passionate about. 

Hastings was also a tireless supporter of civil rights for women, the LGBTQ+ community, senior citizens, Jewish people, immigrants and people of color.

When he died, it was immediately clear that filling the void he left would be a gargantuan task, but 11 Democrats thought they were up to the challenge and ran to succeed him.

After a closely fought primary battle, Cherfilus-McCormick was declared the victor of the Democratic primary by five votes, beating the other Democrats who vied for the opportunity to hold the Hastings seat.

Facing only token opposition — a Republican candidate who may yet be disqualified from running — Cherfilus-McCormick is almost certain to be the next member of Congress from Florida.

Immediately after accepting the Democratic nomination to run in the general election, Cherfilus-McCormick posted a brief statement on Twitter. She said, in part, that she was ready to continue “following Alcee Hastings’s legacy of fighting for the rights and welfare of the common person.”

In an interview with the Florida Political Review, former Rep. Richard Stark, D-Weston, cautioned that while “no one can be Alcee Hastings, we have to hope for the best.”

Stark said he will support her in the general election but made it clear that running a campaign and legislating are two different things. “She was popular enough to gain a good following for a campaign, but now she must prove she can do this as an elected official,” he stated.

Stark was pleased that Cherfilus-McCormick is “in favor of strong ties between the U.S. and Israel.” This is an issue particularly important to him as the chair of the Broward County Democratic Party Jewish Caucus, and it was also important to Hastings, who traveled to Israel an estimated 20 times.

Cherfilus-McCormick has also pledged to support labor-friendly initiatives. These include passing the PRO Act, which will give power to the unions who built the middle class and supports both raising the minimum wage and eliminating the wage gap between men and women.

In this time of widening inequality in the aftermath of Trump-era weakening of worker protections, Cherfilus-McCormick’s support is crucial. Not only will support for these movements ensure not only the continuation of the Hastings legacy but concrete support for the people of her district and elsewhere.

This is not all. Cherfilus-McCormick gave her support to the Equality Act, giving full civil rights protections to LGBTQ+ people, preventing the Republicans from telling a woman what to do with her own body, and legalizing marijuana.

Legalizing marijuana is an especially important issue in her district, so much so that Hastings had advocated for decriminalization and legalization of marijuana for years. This is due to the disproportionate impact of current marijuana laws on the Black community that makes up most of Florida’s 20th Congressional District.

Democrats will need all the help they can get in D.C. to help overturn the mistreatment of so many communities enabled or caused by the previous administration. When she arrives, Cherfilus-McCormick will doubtless be a valuable vote to enable these changes in the most closely divided House of Representatives in 20 years.

As Cherfilus-McCormick acquaints herself with Capitol Hill, she may indeed carve out a valuable niche for herself in one of the most important issues facing both her future constituents and the American people at large: health care. 

As a health care executive, Cherfilus-McCormick is more than qualified to deal with this issue. She wants to make sure everyone has health care, which she sees as a right, not a privilege.

Stark said that it always helps to be an entrepreneur in a legislative session. This is because only an entrepreneur can understand the intricacies of the business system. Cherfilus-McCormick’s expertise will aid in attempts to try to regulate the health care industry and make the system more equitable since she knows it better than most members of Congress. 

This will become helpful in serving her constituents, coming from a district with an extremely high rate of people lacking health care insurance. This is doubly true in a state where extremist Republicans continue to stubbornly resist expanding Medicaid (making Florida one of only 12 states to blatantly disregard the health of its citizens in such a manner).

So, if you live in Florida’s 20th Congressional district, vote for Cherfilus-McCormick come Election Day on Jan. 11, 2022. Though no one can truly replace Hastings, she will carry on the Hastings legacy and be a powerful voice for the rights of all people once sworn in.

If you are not sure where you can vote, would like to register to vote, or would like further information, please go to iwillvote.com/florida to make a plan today.

Check out other recent articles from Florida Political Review here.

Featured image: The late U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings attends a conference in Marrakech. Unmodified photo by oscepa and used under a Creative Commons license. (https://bit.ly/3lEqtmD)

6 Comments

    • Charles Horowitz

      Good question. There are many ways immigrants can help. Immigrants who are US citizens can vote in the election and serve as a poll worker, while every immigrant, US citizen or not, can volunteer for a campaign or even work for a campaign. Just as in American society at large, immigrants are valuable parties to the election process.
      سؤال جيد. هناك العديد من الطرق التي يمكن للمهاجرين أن يساعدوا بها. يمكن للمهاجرين من مواطني الولايات المتحدة التصويت في الانتخابات والعمل كعامل اقتراع ، بينما يمكن لكل مهاجر ، سواء كان مواطنًا أمريكيًا أم لا ، التطوع في حملة أو حتى العمل في حملة. كما هو الحال في المجتمع الأمريكي ككل ، يعتبر المهاجرون أحزابًا قيّمة في العملية الانتخابية.

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