U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., will challenge U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in 2022 instead of taking on Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Politico first reported the news on Tuesday that Demings will run against Rubio.
A longtime law enforcement officer who rose to be chief of the Orlando Police Department, Demings has risen quickly up the political ladder in recent years. Back in 2012, Demings offered U.S. Rep. Dan Webster, R-Fla., a surprisingly close race. After the latest round of congressional redistricting, the district, now including parts of Orange County, became far more palatable for Democrats. Webster packed his bags to run for an open seat up north while, despite some respectable opposition in the primary, Demings ran over her rivals to win his old seat. Demings did not face any opposition in the 2018 general election and easily kept her seat in November, taking 64 percent while Republican Vennia Francois pulled 36 percent.
In her congressional career, Demings has been given some high-profile assignments, including taking aim at the Trump administration. on immigration and health-care and focusing on national security issues. When she started her service in Congress in January 2017, Demings had a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony in Orlando with some high-profile Democrats in attendance. Then U.S. House Minority Leader and now Speaker Pelosi swore Demings in and then U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer attended the event.
Demings, who is married to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, claimed even more of the political spotlight in 2020 when she served as a House impeachment manager and garnered consideration to be Joe Biden’s running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.
With Demings now running for the Senate, focus now turns to U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., who had been considering a run against Rubio. Demings and Murphy have worked closely in the House since they both were elected in 2016.
Demings would not have an open shot in the primary. Allen Ellison entered the race back in December but he did not do well in his two bids for Congress. Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., launched a Senate bid at the end of March but he is coming off some political losses, getting blown out in the Democratic Senate primary in 2016 and losing to U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, D-Fla. in 2018. In recent weeks, former State Attorney Aramis Ayala, who garnered national attention for refusing to seek the death penalty, opened the door to getting in the Senate race.
In the gubernatorial race, former Florida governor and current U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., is already running for the Democratic nomination. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is also a possible candidate.
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