PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. – Florida Rep. Omari J. Hardy describes himself on Twitter as a “Troublemaker Extraordinaire” and when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he has made it clear he aligns with the Democratic party’s progressive wing.
Hardy’s position on U.S. military aid to Israel has separated him from the 11 Democratic candidates who are campaigning to succeed the late U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a strong champion of Israel in the U.S. House of Representatives.
When Hastings was first elected to represent the 20th U.S. Congressional District in 1992, he became the first African American elected to Congress in Florida since the post-Civil War period. The advocate for Black-Jewish community relations died on April 6 while serving his 15th two-year term.
Hardy, a 31-year-old University of Miami economist and former middle school teacher, has been representing the 88th district in the Florida House of Representatives since Nov. 3. On Monday, he told the Jewish Insider that if he is elected to succeed Hastings, he can’t vote to send military aid to Israel.
“My conscience won’t let me support some of the very problematic practices there,” Hardy said, adding that while learning about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict he was concerned about human rights violations.
The 20th U.S. Congressional District covers areas of Palm Beach and Broward counties. Hardy was born in Fort Lauderdale and lives in Palm Beach. He has the endorsement of the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Democratic Reps. Anna Eskamani, Travaris McCurdy, and Carlos Guillermo Smith support him.
The list of candidates who Hardy will be running against on the Nov. 2 Democratic primary includes Broward County Commissioners Dale Holness and Barbara Sharief. The general election is on Jan. 11.