Broward County Commissioner Dr. Barbara Sharief received a boost to her campaign for Congress from two influential LGBT political organizations. 

The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council and Dolphin Democrats gave their seal of approval to Sharief, the District 8 Commissioner. One of several high-profile candidates campaigning for the vacant U.S. House seat in Congressional District 20, Sharief holds many distinctions including a Doctorate of Nursing and is Broward County’s first female Black Mayor.

“I’m honored to have the full support of Broward and Palm Beach County’s major LGBTQ+ organizations in my campaign for Congress and privileged to partner with them in the fight to end discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression in our communities,” Sharief said in a press release. “The voices of both Dolphin Democrats and PBCHRC are essential in working against hate of any kind, and I look forward to continuing our shared mission in Congress.”

Alfredo Olvera, Dolphin Democrats president, said candidates were required to complete a questionnaire and receive more than 50% of the vote from membership to achieve a recommendation. Olvera said 32 members voted on eight candidates.

“Dr. Sharief’s questionnaire was very thought out and her answers were very robust,” said Olvera.

Florida Representative Bobby DuBose of Fort Lauderdale placed second in the Dolphins’ voting.

Monday was the last day to register to vote in the primary election scheduled for Nov. 2.

Congressional District 20 covers large swaths of minority neighborhoods in Broward and Palm Beach Counties, stretching from Lake Okeechobee to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. The seat has been vacant since the death of longtime Congressman Alcee Hastings in April.

“We didn’t have to wait this long,” said Olvera, who added the congressional campaign has created empty seats in state and local governments as candidates resigned to run.

PBCHRC President Rand Hoch echoed Olvera’s comments about the seat being held open too long. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis set the general election for January 11, 2022.

“It’s the politics of this era,” Hoch said. “This is right out of the Republican playbook. They are taking as much time as they can to deny Nancy Pelosi [Speaker of the House] one more vote.”

The district is one of the bluest in Florida and Hoch called the Democratic field an “impressive bunch.” Ultimately for PBCHRC’s Voters Alliance, Sharief’s endorsement hinged on her ability to navigate the process.

“She showed tenacity and knowledge and that’s what we like to see in the candidates we endorse,” Hoch said, adding Sharief was “more in the guidelines” during the endorsement process and demonstrated “better knowledge of what was going on and what she could do about it.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Gaskill, president of the Florida LGBTQ+ Democratic Caucus, told SFGN on Sunday the Caucus received recommendations for Sharief from the Dolphin Dems and Rusty Gordon Democrats — Palm Beach County’s LGBT Democratic club — but could not establish a quorum for an endorsement.

Federal campaign finance records show Gaskill donated $1,000 to the campaign of Florida Representative Omari Hardy of West Palm Beach. Hardy, who represents District 88 in Tallahassee, was raised by two mothers and has been a vocal ally of LGBT issues.

“Personally, I like his passion, drive and commitment to the issues,” Gaskill said of Hardy. “What he’s fighting for really underpins a lot of what is happening in the country.”

Florida Representative Carlos Guillermo Smith, the state’s first gay Latino lawmaker, donated $250 to the Hardy campaign. Smith’s former employer — Equality Florida — is staying neutral in the campaign.

“Historically, Equality Florida has not made federal endorsements,” said Joe Saunders, EQFL Senior Political Director. “We shifted that in 2020 in response to the urgent need to defeat Donald Trump. We are still determining if we’ll be making federal endorsements and I don’t expect our board to make that decision in time to play a role in that race.”

Hardy, 31, picked up the endorsement of the Sun Sentinel last week. The newspaper said Hardy showed a stronger command of the issues than his older and more experienced rivals.

“Hardy is truly a young man in a hurry, but that’s exactly what this downtrodden and often neglected district needs,” the Sun Sentinel wrote. “He’s an unapologetic progressive who’s unafraid to challenge deeply entrenched powerful interests such as the sugar industry. He does his homework, takes forceful positions and is a positive symbol of the future of the Florida Democratic Party.”

Broward County District 9 Commissioner Dale Holness and Florida Senator Perry Thurston of Pompano Beach are also seeking the Democratic nomination. Holness has the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union, while Thurston got the nod from Florida’s AFL-CIO and Broward’s Teachers Union.

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