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Demings planning to run for Senate instead of Florida governor

Greg Nash

ORLANDO, Fla. — Rep. Val Demings (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 Rubio (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 Murphy (D-Fla.) and former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.). 

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

Rep. Charlie Crist (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 Biden 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 Trump’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. 

Tags 2022 midterm elections Alan Grayson Charlie Crist Donald Trump Florida politics Florida Senate race Joe Biden Marco Rubio Stephanie Murphy Val Demings

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