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Demings raises $1 million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio

Demings raises $1 million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio
© Greg Nash

Rep. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsDemings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden mission abroad: reward friends, constrain adversaries Florida Rep. Val Demings officially enters Senate race against Rubio MORE (D-Fla.) raised $1 million for her nascent Senate bid in the day after she announced that she plans to challenge Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFive years after the Pulse nightclub massacre the fight for LGBTQ+ rights continues Rubio calls on Biden to 'forcefully' confront Iran over movement of war ships Bipartisan lawmakers want Biden to take tougher action on Nicaragua MORE (R-Fla.) in 2022, according to a person familiar with the campaign’s fundraising.

The $1 million figure is staggering for a candidate, especially in a year without any regularly scheduled federal elections. It’s an early sign of momentum for Demings, a rising Democratic star who is seen as the favorite in the budding primary to take on Rubio next year.

But with 10 media markets and a population that exceeds that of New York state, Florida is known for expensive campaigns, putting pressure on Demings to quickly amass a warchest that can compete with that of Rubio, whose Senate campaign reported having nearly $4 million on hand at the end of March. 

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Demings has seen her national profile expand significantly over the past year. Last summer, she made President BidenJoe BidenBiden prepares to confront Putin Ukrainian president thanks G-7 nations for statement of support Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting MORE’s shortlist of potential running mates. In February, she served as one of the House impeachment managers in former President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden prepares to confront Putin Biden aims to bolster troubled Turkey ties in first Erdoğan meeting Senate investigation of insurrection falls short MORE’s second Senate trial. 

For months, she was believed to be eyeing a challenge to Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisSunday shows preview: Biden foreign policy in focus as Dem tensions boil up back home Demings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio Florida Board of Education bans critical race theory MORE (R) in 2022. But she said last month that she was considering a bid against Rubio instead. On Wednesday, she formally jumped into the race. 

Florida is among the most volatile battleground states in the country. But Democrats have struggled there in recent years. Trump carried the state twice, first in 2016 and again in 2020. Meanwhile, the 2018 midterm elections saw the defeat of former Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonDemings raises million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio Russia threatens to leave International Space Station program over US sanctions Nikki Fried, only statewide elected Democrat in Florida, launches challenge to DeSantis MORE (D-Fla.) and Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Andrew Gillum.

Democrats are particularly eager to oust Rubio, who ran unsuccessfully in 2016 for the Republican presidential nomination and is seen as a potential contender for the job in 2024. Democrats are also scrambling to expand their ultra-narrow majority in the Senate, and a victory in Florida next year would be a major step toward that goal.