Demings mulling statewide Florida run in 2022


Florida Rep. Val Demings (D) said Friday she’s mulling a bid next year against either Sen. Marco Rubio (R) or Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

“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 in a statement to The Hill. 

Should Demings run for either office, she would hand Democrats a high-profile candidate in a key swing state that has leaned toward Republicans in recent cycles.

A former Orlando police chief who was elected in 2016 to her central Florida district, Demings saw her profile skyrocket when she was tapped to be a House impeachment manager for former President Trump’s first impeachment trial. She was later considered to be President Biden’s running mate in 2020, though he ultimately tapped now-Vice President Harris.

Still, she or any Democrat would likely face an uphill battle in unseating either Rubio or DeSantis in the Sunshine State, where Republicans had broad successes winning statewide races in 2018 and 2020.

Neither Rubio nor DeSantis are electoral slouches.

Rubio, who was first elected in 2010, has won both of his terms by comfortable margins and has performed well with Hispanic voters in southern Florida, a vote Democrats need to win big to try to offset big GOP margins in other, more conservative parts of the state.

And DeSantis, who won the governor’s mansion in 2018 with Trump’s endorsement, has garnered plaudits from across the Republican Party for his handling of the coronavirus and reluctance to impose stringent restrictions on Floridians. 

Democrats speculate that Demings could still put up a tough fight against either Rubio or DeSantis next year given her résumé. As a Black woman, she could appeal to a key part of the Democratic Party’s base, and her past as a top law enforcement official could help protect her from GOP claims that Democrats fail to properly support police.

Earlier this week, she got into a shouting match with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on hate crime legislation when he tried to propose an amendment that would prevent police agencies from being defunded. The law does not involve taking funds away from police departments.

“I served as a law enforcement officer for 27 years. It is a tough job and good police officers deserve your support,” Demings said. “You know, it’s interesting to see my colleagues on the other side of the aisle support the police when it is politically convenient to do so. Law enforcement risk their lives everyday. They deserve better.”

Nevertheless, Florida, while still a swing state, has become increasingly friendly to Republicans in past cycles, leaving Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried as the lone Democrat to hold statewide office there.

Trump won Florida by more than 3 points last year, a relatively wide margin in a state infamous for its narrow ones.

DeSantis won the governor’s race in a tight contest in 2018, and Sen. Rick Scott (R) flipped a Senate seat that same year. 

Trump and Rubio also won statewide in 2016. 

Among the other Democrats considering runs against Rubio are Rep. Stephanie Murphy, while Fried and Rep. Charlie Crist (D), a former governor, are mulling runs against DeSantis. 

Politico first reported that Demings is considering a statewide campaign.

Tags 2022 2022 elections 2022 midterm elections Charlie Crist Donald Trump Florida Jim Jordan Joe Biden Marco Rubio Nikki Fried Ron DeSantis Stephanie Murphy Val Demings

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