Demings raises $1 million after announcing Senate bid against Rubio

Greg Nash

Rep. Val Demings (D-Fla.) raised $1 million for her nascent Senate bid in the day after she announced that she plans to challenge Sen. Marco Rubio (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. 

Demings has seen her national profile expand significantly over the past year. Last summer, she made President Biden’s shortlist of potential running mates. In February, she served as one of the House impeachment managers in former President Trump’s second Senate trial. 

For months, she was believed to be eyeing a challenge to Gov. Ron DeSantis (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 Nelson (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.

Tags 2022 midterm elections Bill Nelson Donald Trump Florida politics Florida Senate race Fundraising Joe Biden Marco Rubio Ron DeSantis Val Demings

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