The fight for the 20th congressional district primary Aug. 23 includes three Democrats with vast political records and an unopposed Republican candidate, and all of them are targeting a famously blue seat once held by a longtime congressman of three decades.
The 20th congressional district is made up of western portions of Palm Beach County and Broward County, such as Belle Glade and Plantation. The district was redrawn to take out a few votes from Pembroke Pines and swap it for some more votes in Plantation.
U.S. Rep. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick is running for a full term after winning a special election in January to fill the vacancy created when longtime Congressman Alcee Hastings died in April 2021 from pancreatic cancer. She had previously unsuccessfully challenged Hastings in 2018 and 2020.
Now the seat's up for election again, and two candidates with stacked political backgrounds are challenging her for the Democratic nomination.
Former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness is aiming for a rematch against Cherfilus-McCormick after losing the Democratic primary last year by just five votes.
State Rep. Anika Omphroy, a Democrat representing central Broward, is the third Democratic candidate in the race.
Drew Montez Clark is running unopposed for the Republican seat, but he is up against a notably blue district. In the 2020 presidential election, Joe Biden held about 75% of the district's support while Donald Trump had about 23% of its support.
The Palm Beach Post performed a criminal background check on every candidate. The Post is reporting any criminal charges filed and the outcome of the cases since January 2012, even when they did not result in a conviction.
Campaign finance data for candidates who ran in the special election this year are merged together under the Federal Election Commission.
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D) (Incumbent)
Age and residence: 43, Miramar.
Top campaign priorities: One of Cherfilus-McCormick's top campaign priorities include tackling the housing crisis by providing funding for rental and mortgage assistance and through increasing affordable housing. She also wants to focus on reducing inflation, fighting to end health care disparities by pushing universal health care, defending reproductive and voting rights and creating economic opportunities for workers and small business owners in the district.
Professional history: Between 2010 and 2022, Cherfilus-McCormick was the chief executive officer of Trinity Health Care Services. She stepped down once elected to Congress.
Political background: Prior to taking congressional office, Cherfilus-McCormick was part of the Advisory Board of Broward County Public Schools, and she was the board leadership director for the Haitian Chamber of Commerce.
Education: Cherfilus-McCormick received a bachelor of arts in political science from Howard University. She went to graduate school at University of Maryland University College for her master's in business administration. She went to law school at St. Thomas University's School of Law.
Criminal history: None.
Endorsements: Cherfilus-McCormick is endorsed by U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, state Sen. Bobby Powell, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard, West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James, Royal Palm Beach Mayor Fred Pinto, Riviera Beach Mayor Ronnie Felder, Palm Beach Gardens Mayor Chelsea Reed, Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson, former Westlake Vice Mayor Katina Long Robinson and Palm Beach County School District Board Member Marcia Andrews.
Finances: Cherfilus-McCormick had total receipts of $7.5 million as of July 18, with about $313,000 in contributions, $7.2 million in loans and more than $6,700 in other receipts. Most of the finances credited to Cherfilus-McCormick herself and ActBlue, which is a nonprofit technology organization to help Democratic candidates with online fundraising.
Dale Holness (D)
Age and residence: 65, Plantation.
Top campaign priorities: Holness' key campaign priorities would be to champion economic development, entrepreneurship, job creation and living wages. He emphasizes selling more of America's goods to the rest of the world and advocating for small businesses. Holness aims to promote affordable housing, immigration reform, environmental justice, health care, equity, Medicare for All, Medicaid, Social Security, youth empowerment, criminal justice reform and voting rights.
Professional history: Holness is a real estate broker with All Broward Realty and has 30 years of real estate experience.
Political background: Holness was the Broward County Commissioner for District 9 from 2010 up until this year. He was the mayor of Broward County in 2020 and vice mayor in 2019. He served Lauderhill as a city commissioner from 2004 to 2010 and as vice mayor in 2007 and 2010.
Education: Holness attended classes at Broward College, Sheridan Technical College and Nova Southeastern University.
Criminal history: None.
Endorsements: Holness is endorsed by Margate Mayor Antonio Arserio, Pembroke Pines Commissioner Angelo Castillo, Tamarac Vice Mayor Mike Gelin, Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, Lauderhill Commissioner Sarai Martin and West Park Commissioner Joy Smith.
Finances: Holness' campaign contribution receipts total $1.1 million as of July 26, with some of this including a $40,000 loan. Individual contribution entries from donors do not go above $6,000, but most of the top contributions come from real estate companies or local businesses.
Anika Omphroy (D)
Age and residence: 43, Lauderdale Lakes
Top campaign priorities: Omphroy's top campaign priorities include a multilevel housing plan to ensure affordable housing and increase multifamily housing units and vouchers, cutting student loan debt per borrower by at least $50,000, refinancing loans at a simple interest rate, protecting Florida farmers and ensuring increased housing stock and that their children receive quality education, and decriminalizing cannabis.
Professional history: Currently, Omphroy is not employed aside from working as a Florida House representative.
Political background: Omphroy was elected to the Florida House in 2018. She was appointed by the governor to the Florida Re-Open Task Force Industry Working Group on Agriculture, Finance, Government, Healthcare, Management and Professional Services in 2020, and she was also elected to the executive committee for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators in 2021 and appointed to its International Affairs Committee in 2019. She was elected as the Area 9 Leader for the Broward Democratic Party in 2017 to 2018, which was for the Lauderhill and Lauderdale Lakes area. In 2016, she was appointed to the Civil Services Board of the City of Lauderdale Lakes. She was the vice chair of the City of Lauderdale Lakes Economic Development Board in 2013, and she served on the Human Rights Board of Broward County from 2005 to 2009.
Education: Omphroy has a bachelor of science from Nova Southeastern University.
Criminal history: None.
Endorsements: Omphroy told The Palm Beach Post that she did not ask for any endorsements.
Finances: Campaign finance data for Omphroy only shows contributions from May to November 2021 totaling $10,000.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Three Democratic candidates seek Florida Congress District 20 seat