A month after Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings’ death on April 6, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Tuesday that the special election for Florida’s 20th Congressional District would not take place until Jan. 11 of next year, meaning the seat will remain without representation for 280 days. That’s almost twice as long as the gap that proceeded the state’s two most recent special elections: In 2014, specials were held in the 13th District just 144 days after Rep. Bill Young died and in the 19th District just 148 days after Rep. Trey Radel resigned. Both were Republicans.
Local election officials in Broward and Palm Beach counties initially proposed the dates that DeSantis wound up choosing, including a primary on Nov. 2. Soon after, however, they suggested the primary take place on Sept. 14 and the general on Nov. 9, with one official saying, “People would like it to be earlier.”
DeSantis disregarded that advice in a move that Democrats are certain to attack as motivated by a partisan interest in depriving the party’s narrow congressional majority of a key vote. (The governor’s long delay in waiting to schedule the election was also hotly criticized, with one candidate, Democrat Elvin Dowling, filing a lawsuit late last week demanding a date be set.) The decision further means that the majority-Black 20th District will have no voice in the House for the better part of a year.
It’s not yet clear when the filing deadline will be, but in a press conference announcing the dates, DeSantis said, “I think that puts qualifying towards the end of the first week of September.”
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