Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor

Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor
© Greg Nash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsThe Hill's Morning Report - Surging COVID-19 infections loom over US, Olympics Six takeaways: What the FEC reports tell us about the midterm elections Cuba, Haiti pose major challenges for Florida Democrats MORE (D-Fla.) is planning to run for Senate next year, forgoing a widely expected campaign for Florida governor in order to take on Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate holds sleepy Saturday session as negotiators finalize infrastructure deal Break glass in case of emergency — but not for climate change Democrats join GOP in pressuring Biden over China, virus origins MORE (R-Fla.), according to two people familiar with her plans.

Demings’s expected entrance into the Florida Senate race gives Democrats a top-tier challenger to Rubio, who is expected to run for a third term in 2022. She has expressed interest for months in pursuing statewide office, floating potential runs for both governor and Senate. 

“Val is an impressive and formidable candidate whose potential entrance would make the race against Rubio highly competitive,” one national Democrat with knowledge of the party’s Senate strategy said.


One person familiar with Demings’s plans said a decision could come sometime this summer. 

Demings's plans were first reported on Tuesday by Politico.

If she does ultimately jump into the race as she is expected to, she will likely face a primary against a handful of other high-profile Democrats, including Rep. Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyLawmakers can't reconcile weakening the SALT cap with progressive goals Select committee member thanks officers who responded Jan. 6: 'You were our last line of defense' House erupts in anger over Jan. 6 and Trump's role MORE (D-Fla.) and former Rep. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio Demings raises Democrats' hopes in uphill fight to defeat Rubio Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor MORE (D-Fla.). 

But a gubernatorial bid would also put her up against other prominent Florida Democrats. 

Rep. Charlie CristCharles (Charlie) Joseph CristDeSantis's reelection campaign will be brutal — and he could lose Crist rips DeSantis over Florida COVID-19 spike: 'We don't have leadership' Pressure mounts for DeSantis in Florida MORE (D-Fla.) jumped into the governor’s race earlier this month, leaving behind a House seat that Republicans are likely to contest. And Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, the lone statewide elected Democrat, has also teased a gubernatorial run, with an announcement expected on June 1.


Demings, 64, is likely to benefit, however, from her broad national profile. She was considered as a potential running mate for President BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions GOP skepticism looms over bipartisan spending deal Biden vaccine rule sets stage for onslaught of lawsuits MORE last summer, and she was placed in the national spotlight once again earlier this year when she served as one of the House impeachment managers in former President TrumpDonald TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - White House, Dems play blame game over evictions The Memo: Left pins hopes on Nina Turner in Ohio after recent defeats Biden administration to keep Trump-era rule of turning away migrants during pandemic MORE’s second Senate trial.

Still, Rubio is seen as a challenging opponent. He first won his seat in 2010 by a nearly 20-point margin over Crist, who ran at the time as an independent. In 2016, he won reelection by a roughly 8-point margin, far more than Trump’s 1-point victory.

Perhaps most notably, he outperformed Trump by nearly 10 points in his home turf of Miami-Dade County, one of Florida’s Democratic strongholds, driven by his support among Hispanics, who make up a significant portion of the electorate.