“Every day there are highs and lows,” Cherfilus-McCormick told the Florida Sun-Sentinel on Friday, after arriving at the Broward County canvassing board to watch the recount. A spokesman for Cherfilus-McCormick said that she would say more after the recount, and Holness did not respond to a question about his plans.
Before the recount was ordered, Holness led Cherfilus-McCormick by just 12 votes out of more than 49,000 cast, far under the threshold for an automatic review of the ballots. The two candidates traded the lead late Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, as nine other Democrats fell short and conceded defeat.
The 20th district, which connects majority-Black cities in suburbs from Palm Beach County to Broward County, was represented by Hastings until his death from pancreatic cancer in April.
Holness, 62, was close to Hastings and said that the congressman had quietly endorsed him shortly before he died, though other candidates questioned whether that qualified as an endorsement. Cherfilus-McCormick, who challenged Hastings in 2018 and 2020, largely self-funded her campaign, loaning it $3.7 million and spending more than any other Democratic candidate.
The winner of the Democratic primary will be heavily favored to fill the seat in a Jan. 11 election. President Biden carried the district by 56 points last year, and the winner of the Republican primary, Jason Mariner, is a former felon who did not complete the state’s new requirements to restore his rights and seek political office.
Democrats won a narrow majority of 222 House seats last November, which has made it more difficult round up votes on Biden’s legislative priorities at the center of the party’s 2021 agenda. At the moment, Democrats can only lose three votes and pass legislation in the House. After the Florida vacancy is filled, the margin will go back up to a still razor-thin four votes.