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Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick wins primary for Florida's 20th Congressional District

 Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick arrives to her watch party in Broward after winning the Democratic primary to Florida's 20th Congressional District seat
Wilkine Brutus
Cherfilus-McCormick's victory party at a golf club in Tamarac.

Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick won the primary for Florida's 20th Congressional District, which includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach Counties. The seat was held by Representative Alcee Hastings from 2013 until his death last year.

Cherfilus-McCormick is the first Haitian American representing South Florida in Congress. She beat out former Broward Mayor Dale Holness again in an anticipated rematch, and she defeated primary challenger Anika Omphroy, who represents parts of Broward County in the Florida House of Representatives.

District 20 leans heavily democratic. Incumbent Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick has the advantage against Republican Drew Montez Clark in the November general election. Clark ran unopposed in the Republican primary.

Cherfilus-McCormick told WLRN work isn't done after winning the Democratic primary. She said Democrats have done a great job with turnout, but the party needs voters engaged for the general election.

She says that'll require more transparency about their policies and its effectiveness.

"We have a three-month spring to show people what we've been doing," Cherfilus-McCormick said. "Convince them that this actually works for them ... and have a transparent look at what we've been fighting for."

Cherfilus-McCormick said she wants to address the concerns voters shared with her at recent town hall meetings.

"The biggest concern they had was housing. Their housing insurance has gone up. Also, we see the price of rent has gone up, mortgages have gone up," she said. "Even homebuyership has been a real struggle for our district so we've been working with them and also HUD to make sure we can meet those needs and putting forth legislation to make housing more accessible and affordable."

The contentious showdown between the Cherfilus-McCormick and Holness has been marred by back-and-forth allegations and a defamation lawsuit.

Cherfilus-McCormick filed a defamation suit against Holness and a campaign aide for more than $1 million over financial fraud allegations that Holness' campaign made through a text to supporters, accusing the congresswoman of embezzling money to win the seat.

During a special election in January, Cherfilus-McCormick won Florida’s 20th Congressional seat against Holness by a razor-thin 5 votes.

The district includes parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Wilkine Brutus is a reporter and producer for WLRN and a guest faculty member at the Poynter Institute. The South Florida native produces stories on topics surrounding local news, culture, art, politics and current affairs.