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Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick talks her primary win and 'tantrum' from former opponents

Sheila{ }Cherfilus - McCormick, the Democratic candidate for Congress in District 20, in an interview with CBS 12 News. (WPEC).{ }
Sheila Cherfilus - McCormick, the Democratic candidate for Congress in District 20, in an interview with CBS 12 News. (WPEC).
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Sheila Cherfilus - McCormick, a businessperson from Broward County, sent shockwaves through Florida's political system last month when she narrowly won the Democratic primary to replace the late congressman Alcee Hastings.

Cherfilus - McCormick, long considered an underdog and discounted by many of her opponents, beat long serving Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness by five votes. The Democratic primary, which had 10 candidates in total, was finally decided after both a machine and hand recount.

Holeness has responded with lawsuits in Broward and Palm Beach counties, alleging military ballots were wrongly discounted and claiming Cherfilus - McCormick misled voters by promising unrealistic stimulus payments.

"Before the election he never said that, its after he lost he started saying it’s a gimmick or it’s a hoax," Sheila Cherfilus - McCormick said in an exclusive interview with CBS12 News this week.

Cherfilus - McCormick's campaign widely advertised the People's Prosperity Plan, a spending package that would provide $1,000 stimulus payments to Americans, similar to the checks provided by the federal government during the worst of the COVID shutdowns.

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Ads about the plan blanketed TV and Cherfilus - McCormick lawn signs proudly displayed the pledge "$1,000 a month for you." Opponents have criticized that language as false advertising.

"Its crazy to think that because we had the People’s Prosperity Plan on the bottom [of the ads]. And, anyone who reached out, we talked to them about the plan, we explained the plan to them. So, it was never an intention of having anyone believe that 'oh you just vote and you get the money,'" Cherfilus - McCormick responded when asked about the allegations.

The candidate, whose already met with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and other key congressional Democrats, says she's more focused on hitting the ground running if she is elected to the House.

"Knowing what those issues are, how they touch and concern the people, that should be paramount. Not Dale [Holness] throwing a tantrum and suing," she told CBS 12 News.

In court filings, Holness accused Cherfilus - McCormick of orchestrating a campaign that "mislead, manipulated, and shammed voters to the extend that several voters believed that they would be picking up $1,000 checks on Election Day."

Cherfilus - McCormick, however, claims she's never had conversations like that with voters.

"We don’t get 'where's my thousand dollars?' What I do get is, 'I'm happy you’re going to fight for me.'"

The Democratic nominee in a deep blue district, Cherfilus - McCormick is expected to be elected to Congress during the special election this January. But, championing those kind of continued stimulus payments, often referred to as Universal Basic Income, will be difficult in a deeply divided Washington.

Her People's Prosperity Plan calls for more federal spending and would have to pass not just the House of Representatives, but the Senate, where moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema are already holding up President Biden's agenda over concerns it will drastically impact the federal government's debt.

Cherfilus - McCormick says she's optimistic her plan could still pass and is encouraged by other progressive members of congress, like Rep. Ilhan Omar, who have proposed similar direct payment legislation.

Omar's bill the SUPPORT Act has four other Democratic co-sponsors and has stalled in the legislative process. The website GovTrack gives it a 1% chance of being enacted.

But, Cherfilus - McCormick says she's hopeful Congress can act to help families struggling with inflation and skyrocketing housing costs in the Sunshine State,

"That’s why these programs coming out of Washington are so important, because they help alleviate some of the stress that families are feeling," Cherfilus - McCormick added, recalling her experiences as a single mom for twelve years, who sometimes struggled to make ends meet. "That’s still me. No matter what else changes. And that’s what makes me prepared for this, that I remember and I know and I feel it."

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The special election in the 20th Congressional District will be held on January 11th, 2022. Cherfilus - McCormick will face Republican nominee Jason Mariner.

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