Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida has decided to challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for his Senate seat next year, according to a new report.
Demings, who was on the shortlist of possible vice presidential picks for President Joe Biden, has not yet made a public announcement, but multiple sources contacted by Politico said her candidacy is a done deal.
Demings had indicated she was mulling a challenge to either Rubio or Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.
“I would’ve supported her running for governor, but this is the right fit for her and for us,” said Alex Sink, a Democratic state senator who lost the 2010 gubernatorial election to now-Sen. Rick Scott.
“She’s going to draw a contrast between who she is and how she represents Florida vs. Marco Rubio, who a lot of people where I live never see him,” Sink said.
Politico quoted an adviser to Demings as saying the decision could change, but reported that Demings was irked that Senate Republicans did not back Biden’s COVID-19 rescue plan.
“If I had to point to one thing, I think it’s the COVID bill and the way Republicans voted against it for no good reason,” the adviser said. “That really helped push her over the edge. She also had this huge fight with [Ohio Republican Rep.] Jim Jordan and it brought that into focus. This fight is in Washington and it’s the right fight for her to continue.”
The spat with Jordan came after the Ohio Republican wanted to insert language into a bill that would ban defunding the police.
The adviser said there was a “98.6 percent chance” that Demings would run for the Senate.
Demings indicated last month she was going big in 2022.
“I’ve received so many calls and texts and emails, and have been stopped when I’m out and about by people who are asking me that very same question. Matter of fact, they think I should run for statewide office and maybe challenge the governor, or challenge Sen. Rubio next year,” she told Politico then.
“I’m seriously considering a statewide run. And we’ll see what happens,” she said.
She voiced similar thoughts in a statement to The Hill.
“I am strongly considering a statewide race and grateful for the countless messages of support and encouragement that I have received from people in every part of Florida,” Demings said.
Sink said Demings might have “some explaining to do” for her years as Orlando’s police chief, but added that the bigger issue will be registering supporters and getting them to vote.
“If we don’t register our voters and get them out, we’re not going to win,” Sink said.
Democrats already have two big names eying the 2020 race against DeSantis.
Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist, a former governor, has said he wants his old job back. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is also considering a run for the office.
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