Democrat Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick won Tuesday's special election in Florida's safely Democratic 20th Congressional District, defeating Republican nominee Jason Mariner 79 percent to 20 percent. Cherfilus-McCormick will be sworn in as soon as Florida's secretary of state certifies the results, giving Democrats a 222-212 advantage in the House, effectively meaning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) can pass legislation without the votes of four Democrats rather than three.
Cherfilus-McCormick will be Florida's first Haitian-American member of Congress. She replaces the late Alcee Hastings, the long-serving Democratic congressman who died from pancreatic cancer in April. "Local Democrats have been frustrated over the 280-day gap between his passing and the special election called by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) — timing that left the House majority one seat down most of the year," The Washington Post reports.
"I am so excited and humbled," Cherfilus-McCormick said Tuesday night. "The people have spoken and the people have spoken very loudly." She will have to defend her seat in an August Democratic primary; in last November's primary, she beat a crowded field of 10 other Democrats by only five votes. Cherfilus-McCormick, a 42-year-old health care CEO, loaned her campaign nearly $6 million this last cycle. She has never held elected office but challenged Hastings in the 2018 and 2020 primaries.
There is still one vacancy in the House, left by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) when he resigned last week to join former President Donald Trump's nascent media company. California will hold a primary in the district in April.