Jamaican-born Dale Holness loses Florida primary election by razor-thin five-vote margin
Dale Holness (right) with the man whom he sought to succeed,Democratic Congressman Alcee Hastings

New York, USA — Outspent and out-voted by a razor-thin margin in last week Tuesday's Democratic primary, Jamaican-born Dale Holness has vowed to continue his bid to sit in the United States Congress from Florida's 20th District.

“I have every intention of running in the next primary in August 2022,” Holness, the former Broward County commissioner and mayor, told the Jamaica Observer by telephone from his home yesterday.

Holness also indicated he is likely to sue over 12 ballots from the Broward County which he believes were not legally cast and which would reverse his five-vote loss to Haitian-American Sheila Cherfilus McCormick.

Broward and Palm Beach Counties constitute the State's 20th congressional district where the final count has just ended, although some outstanding votes from overseas and military bases could still be counted if they were postmarked by election day and arrived by the November 12 cut off point.

McCormick, a health executive, would be the first Haitian-American to sit in the US Congress if she goes on to win the January 2022 General Election to succeed the late Democratic Representative Alcee Hastings, who died in April this year.

After a machine and hand recount last Tuesday, she secured 11,662 votes to Holness' 11,557 — a margin of five votes — and is expected to win the January poll, because the 20th District votes overwhelmingly Democratic, and her Republican opponent, Jason Mariner is dogged by a criminal past, including time spent in person.

The winner of this election will serve out the rest of Hastings' term which expires in November 2022. There will be another primary in August 2022 for the mid-term elections, at which time Holness will make his next bid for the full two-year term.

Tuesday's results won't be official until the Department of State certifies them tomorrow.

Holness, a realtor, blamed his loss on two factors — McCormick outspent him by lending her campaign over US$3.7 million of her own money, which is allowed; and under-voting by the 24,000 registered Jamaicans who usually vote Democratic. He said only 6,000 of that number voted.

“I would say the Jamaicans didn't see the primary elections as important,” Holness suggested.

There was also speculation that Holness was severely hurt, but it was not certain how badly, by a scandal involving his daughter Damara Holness, who was arrested for allegedly defrauding hundreds of thousands of dollars from a federal COVID-19 relief programme.

Holness presided over the county as mayor during the first year of the pandemic but in public statements emphasised that he had nothing to do with her actions. The two were estranged for some time before.

Holness was invested last month by the Jamaican Government as a Commander of the Order of Distinction (CD) for outstanding services in the Diaspora.

Damara Holness, daughter of Dale Holness embroiled in scandal
By Harold G Bailey Observer writer

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