Val Demings plans to run for Senate against Rubio



The planned bid provides Democrats with a high-profile candidate in a key Senate race against a nationally known — and well-funded — opponent. The Orlando Democratic lawmaker spent the last few months mulling over a statewide race and recently decided on a bid for the Senate over governor, a source close to the congresswoman told CNN.

The congresswoman plans to make her official announcement in the coming weeks, a source said.

“Val is an impressive and formidable candidate whose potential entrance would make the race against Rubio highly competitive,” said a national Democrat with knowledge of the campaign.

The news of Demings’ plans was first reported by Politico.

Demings’ decision to run for Senate frees up the Democratic primary in the gubernatorial race in Florida, with Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist announcing earlier this month he is running to get his old seat back. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is also eyeing a bid for governor and the prospect of three well-known elected officials running against each other in a primary had worried some top Florida Democrats.

Demings’ decision could put her in a primary fight against Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who is also considering a run against Rubio in 2022.

Demings has seen her national profile surge in recent years, initially rising to prominence while she served as one of the Democratic House impeachment managers charged with making the case against former President Donald Trump during his first impeachment trial.

The Florida congresswoman was also among the contenders to be Joe Biden’s running mate in 2020, a process that both boosted her profile inside the would-be administration and with top Democratic operatives and donors. The congresswoman was also an outspoken voice during the national reckoning with race that was punctuated by the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.

“I’m not sure I want the job as much as the job may want me,” Demings told CNN during the vice presidential search process. “And I say that because I think that people are chosen, I believe, at certain times to address certain things. And if we look at what is going on in our country right now … I know what discrimination feels like, I know what racism feels like, because I have been subjected to it.”

Born in 1957, she was the youngest of seven to a father who worked as a janitor and a mother who was a housekeeper — all descendants of slaves.

The would-be congresswoman attended segregated schools for much of her childhood, before attending and graduating from Florida State University with a degree in criminology.

After two years as a social worker, Demings joined the Orlando Police Department in 1983, where she rose through the ranks and in 2007 became the police chief. She retired from the police force in 2011 before unsuccessfully running for Congress in 2012 and Orange County mayor in 2014. She then successfully won her first elected office in 2016 when she won her congressional seat.

Demings’ plan bid is already garnering national support, especially among groups like The Collective PAC, an organization aimed at boosting Black representation in elected office.

“Electing a Black woman to the US Senate this cycle is a top organizational priority and we are proud to stand with Val Demings,” said Quentin James and Stefanie Brown James, the co-founders of the organization. “There has never been a more crucial time for us to elect leaders who are committed to criminal justice reform, safeguarding voting rights and ensuring government officials are held accountable for unethical behavior.”

This story has been updated with additional information.

CNN’s Caroline Kenny, Alex Rogers and Veronica Stracqualursi contributed to this report.



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