US Congressman Alcee Hastings dies at 84

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Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings has died at the age of 84 following a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. 

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel is reporting that Hastings’ death early this morning was confirmed by a longtime friend. 

In this 2014 photo, longtime Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died early Tuesday at age 84, speaks during a debate at a committee meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The Democratic lawmaker started his career as a civil rights attorney in Florida during the 1960s and 1970s, when he filed segregation lawsuits and a landmark case to desegregate Broward County schools. 

Political reporter Yamiche Alcindor shared news of Hastings’ death on Twitter, noting “Hastings crusaded against racial injustice as a civil rights lawyer, became a federal judge and went on to win 15 congressional elections, becoming Florida’s senior member of Congress.” 

“U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings served his constituents as a civil rights attorney, judge, and Dean of our Congressional delegation,” his fellow Florida Rep. Val Demings tweeted. “He changed the face of politics in FL and brought passion & unwavering dedication to the fight for justice. We are forever grateful for a life well-lived.” 

In 1970, Hastings ran to get the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, which he did not win. However, he showed that a Black candidate could be deemed worthy of such an important job. 

Seven years later, Hastings was appointed a Broward Circuit Court judge. Three years later, in 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to the U.S. District Court, where he became Florida’s first Black federal judge. 

However, two years later, Hastings was indicted on charges that he conspired to solicit a $150,000 bribe from an FBI agent, and a jury found him not guilty. Still, Congress took up the case, and the U.S. House of Representatives impeached Hastings, and the Senate convicted him and removed him from office. Yet, the decision did not disqualify him from running for or holding future political offices. 

And run — and win — he did. For over 25 years. 

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Hastings was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1993, where he remained until his death. 

Voters will replace Hastings during a special election. However, there is no set time frame for Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to hold the election. 

Hastings’ death will noticeably tighten Democratic margins in the House of Representatives.

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“House after Hasting’s death: 218 D, *211* R. No more than 3 Dems can break for the party to pass bills w/out GOP help,” wrote Lisa Desjardins on Twitter. “Next week, Republican @jbletlow will be sworn in, filling her deceased husband’s seat. So, next week: 218D, *212*R. Dems can lose just *2* member votes.” 

Desjardins notes that Democrats currently have the narrowest margin in the House since the Great Depression. 

Hastings is survived by his wife, Patricia Williams, children Alcee “Jody” Hastings II, Chelsea Hastings and Leigh Hastings and a stepdaughter, Maisha.

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