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DeSantis schedules special election to replace Alcee Hastings for January

A special election to replace the late Rep. Alcee HastingsAlcee (Judge) Lamar HastingsCarter sworn in as House member to replace Richmond, padding Democrats' majority Democrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - House GOP drama intensifies; BIden sets new vax goal MORE (D-Fla.) will be held early next year, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisDemocrat Nikki Fried teases possible challenge to DeSantis Controversial voting laws add to Democrats' midterm obstacles Overnight Health Care: FDA authorizes Pfizer vaccine for adolescents | Biden administration reverses limits on LGBTQ health protections MORE said on Tuesday. 

DeSantis, who has remained silent for weeks on when voters could expect to elect Hastings’s successor, announced that primaries in Florida’s 20th Congressional District will take place on Nov. 2, with a general election being held on Jan. 11. 

Hastings’s district is considered safe territory for Democrats, and the party’s eventual nominee is likely to win the general election next year. But the schedule for the special election means that residents of Florida’s 20th, a majority Black district in South Florida, will have to wait at least another eight months for representation in Washington.

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The timeline set by DeSantis flies in the face of calls from local officials and candidates for the seat who have urged him to hold the election quickly. 

Wendy Link, the supervisor of elections in Palm Beach County, proposed that the governor call a primary on Sept. 14, with a general election on Nov. 9. Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief, one of the Democrats running to replace Hastings, had called for a primary to be held in August, with the general election happening in November.

Hastings died in early April after a battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 84 years old.

The special election schedule also carries national political ramifications. Democrats currently hold one of the slimmest House majorities in decades, and the vacancy in Hastings’s seat means one fewer Democratic vote in the lower chamber for the rest of 2021.

Before DeSantis’s announcement, Democrats had feared that the governor would seek to keep Hastings’s seat vacant as long as possible. His decision on Tuesday is likely to draw their objections.