Former Florida prosecutor Aramis Ayala launched her campaign for Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsSenate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September Two senior House Democrats to retire Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse MORE’s (D-Fla.) House seat on Wednesday, becoming the second Democrat to jump into the race.
Ayala was originally considering a Senate bid prior to launching her House bid this week. However, once news broke that Demings was challenging Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioSenate GOP campaign arm outraises Democratic counterpart in September House passes bills to secure telecommunications infrastructure Senators call for answers from US firm over reported use of forced Uyghur labor in China MORE (R-Fla.), Ayala floated that she would run for the House seat.
"Ultimately Congress is where I landed and this is where I think I will be of best service to the people of Florida," Ayala told The Hill in an interview.
Ayala went on to praise Demings, saying she was excited for her next move.
"There's no denying Congresswoman Demings is a fearless leader and an unapologetic champion for matters of safety, for women, women of color," Ayala said. "I'm excited to see what's next for her."
Ayala served as chief prosecutor for Florida’s 9th Judicial District in Orange and Osceola counties from 2017-2021, declining to run for a second term last year.
The news comes after Florida state Sen. Randolph Bracy officially jumped into the race on Tuesday.
The district, which leans Democratic, is located on the I-4 corridor and includes the western portion of Orange County. Demings won the seat by 28 points, making it a likely Democratic stronghold going into the midterms.
Democrats are gearing up to take on Florida Republicans, who have made significant inroads in the state in recent years.
Former President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — Presented by Xerox — Twitter's algorithm boosts right-leaning content, internal study finds Ohio Democrat calls Vance an 'ass----' over Baldwin tweet Matt Taibbi says Trump's rhetoric caused public perception of US intelligence services to shift MORE won the state in 2016 and 2020. House Republicans made gains in 2020, retaking two seats they lost in 2018. Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisArizona attorney general asks for restraining order to block federal vaccine mandate The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Uber - Manchin, Sanders in budget feud; Biden still upbeat Overnight Health Care — Presented by Carequest — Key CDC panel backs Moderna, J&J boosters MORE (R) has seen his national profile grow since taking office in 2019 and has been floated as a potential 2024 presidential candidate.
Ayala said that while much attention has been placed on Trump and the conservative base in the state, independent voters could be the ultimate deciders in 2022.
"There are a lot of non-party affiliated individuals who are really just looking for good candidates," she said. "When we're talking about the landscape of Florida, we're talking about people who just simply have needs and pulling the veil off this image that Republicans and that side of the Donald Trump era is what moves Florida. It doesn't."