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Florida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio

Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsFlorida governor adept student of Trump playbook It's past time we elect a Black woman governor Demings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio MORE (D-Fla.) officially launched her Senate campaign in Florida on Wednesday, becoming the highest-profile Democrat yet to announce a challenge to Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Defense: Joint Chiefs warn against sweeping reform to military justice system | Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal | National Guard may have 'training issues' if not reimbursed Senate panel plans July briefing on war authorization repeal Rising violent crime poses new challenge for White House MORE (R-Fla.). 

“Unlike some in Washington, I never tired of standing up for what I believe is right, because no one is above the law,” Demings said in a video announcing her candidacy. “But it turns out, there are some in Washington who prefer the same old tired ways of doing business.”

She added: “I’m running for the United States Senate because of two simple words: Never tired.”

Demings, a former Orlando police chief and a rising star among Florida Democrats, had been expected for weeks to launch a Senate bid. Several other Democrats are already seeking the party’s nomination, including 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.).

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But Demings almost certainly enters the race with the most star power among Democrats. She was included on President BidenJoe BidenBaltimore police chief calls for more 'boots on the ground' to handle crime wave Biden to deliver remarks at Sen. John Warner's funeral Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump MORE’s shortlist of potential running mates last summer before serving as one of the House impeachment managers during former President TrumpDonald TrumpGuardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa wins GOP primary in NYC mayor's race Garland dismisses broad review of politicization of DOJ under Trump Schumer vows next steps after 'ridiculous,' 'awful' GOP election bill filibuster MORE’s second Senate trial in February.

Still, she — or any other Democrat — will likely face an uphill challenge against Rubio next year. Democrats have suffered a series of disappointing election cycles in Florida in recent years, most recently in 2020, when Trump carried the state for a second time and two Democrats lost Miami-area House seats that they had flipped just two years earlier.

Particularly alarming for Democrats was their performance in Miami-Dade County, the state’s largest Democratic stronghold and one that the party typically needs to win by big margins. 

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Biden carried the county in November, but by less than 8 points. By comparison, the-Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Some Democrats worry rising crime will cost them The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats await Manchin decision on voting rights bill Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda MORE won it in the 2016 presidential race by nearly 30 points, while still losing the state overall. 

In announcing her campaign on Wednesday, Demings touted her law enforcement experience, boasting that violent crime in Orlando dropped during her tenure as chief of police. That argument seeks to counter Republicans’ argument that Democratic leadership has led to a rise in violent crime nationwide. 

Rubio, appearing on Fox News on Tuesday night, hours before Demings announced her candidacy, went on the attack, claiming that his opponent had aligned herself with her party’s far-left wing — a talking point that is sure to dominate his 2022 reelection campaign. 

“None of them will admit to being a socialist,” Rubio said. “She probably won’t. But she certainly has voted for socialist things.”

Demings pushed back against that claim in an interview with the Orlando Sentinel on Tuesday, saying that she is not a socialist and casting Rubio’s line of attack as a sign that Republicans are threatened by her candidacy. 

“Desperate people will do and say desperate things,” she said. “And I don’t blame Rubio and the GOP for being very concerned about me running for the United States Senate against Marco Rubio.”

Updated at 7:57 a.m.