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Ohio, Florida Voters Cast Ballots in Three Congressional Races

November 2, 2021by By Julie Carr Smyth, Associated Press
Laverne Gore, Republican candidate for the Ohio 11th District U.S. congressional seat, smiles during a campaign stop at a Summit County Republican Party get-together in Stow, Ohio, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. (AP Photo/Phil Long)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Both Democrats and Republicans brought out their heavy hitters in the runup to the special congressional election in central Ohio, as the parties sought to boost turnout in one of three off-year contests on the ballot Tuesday.

President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence swung into action to help their parties’ candidates in the race for Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, a seat vacated by Republican Steve Stivers in May, when he left to lead the state Chamber of Commerce.

Pence stumped Saturday for Republican coal lobbyist Mike Carey, endorsed by former President Donald Trump and favored in the GOP-learning district. Biden endorsed two-term Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo on Monday. Her bid for the open seat is considered the party’s most competitive in years, though she remains a long shot.

A second special congressional election is taking place in the Cleveland-area 11th Congressional District. That contest pits Democratic Cuyahoga County Councilmember Shontel Brown against Republican Laverne Gore, a business owner, consultant and trainer, for Democrat Marcia Fudge’s old seat. Fudge stepped down in March to become Biden’s housing secretary after nearly 13 years in Congress.

Brown, who bested firebrand progressive Nina Turner in the August primary, is considered a shoo-in to win in the heavily Democratic district.

In Florida, 11 Democrats are on the ballot in Tuesday’s primary special election for the seat of Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died in April after suffering from pancreatic cancer. One of the candidates is state Rep. Omari Hardy, who was 3 years old when Hastings was elected in 1992. Hastings was the longest-serving member of Florida’s congressional delegation.

While two Republican candidates are also seeking the nomination to run for the 20th Congressional District seat, the district is heavily Democratic. The winner of the Democratic primary is considered a lock for January’s general election.

Turnout is expected to be low Tuesday, and it’s conceivable the next U.S. House member to represent the South Florida district can win the primary with 10% of the vote. The district is 61% Democratic and about 13% Republican. In the 2020 election, Hastings won 78.7% of the vote against Republican Greg Musselwhite. Musselwhite is again running for the GOP nomination, facing Jason Mariner.

State Sen. Perry Thurston and former state Rep. Priscilla Ann Taylor are also seeking the seat for Democrats, along with Broward County Commissioners Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief, both of whom previously served as county mayor. Others on the Democratic ballot are Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Elvin Dowling, Phil Jackson, Emmanuel Morel and Imran Uddin Siddiqui.

The district is a majority Black and covers parts of Broward and Palm Beach counties. Heading into Election Day, out of the more than 345,000 eligible primary voters, nearly 33,000 Democrats and more than 4,000 Republicans had already cast votes.

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Associated Press writer Brendan Farrington in Tallahassee, Fla., contributed to this report.

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