Sources: Val Demings plans to challenge incumbent Marco Rubio for his Florida Senate seat

May 19, 2021

Florida Democratic Representative Val Demings plans to run for the U.S. Senate against Republican Senator Marco Rubio, also of the Sunshine State, in 2022, two sources familiar with the plan told CNN on Tuesday, May 18.

The planned bid by Demmings 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 Representative Charlie Crist (who served one term as Florida governor, from 2007 through 2011) announcing earlier this month he is running to get his old seat back. State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also is 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.

According to CNN, Demings’ decision could put her in a primary fight against Florida Democratic Representative Stephanie Murphy, who also is 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 also was 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. What’s more, the congresswoman was 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.”

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.”

Research contact: @CNN

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