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Florida state Sen. Darren Soto and former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings.

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Congressional New Dems caucus endorses Darren Soto in CD 9 and Val Demings in CD 10

The Congressional New Dems caucus has endorsed state Sen. Darren Soto in his race to win the Democratic nomination in Orlando-based Congressional District 9 and former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings in Orlando-based Congressional District 10.

The New Democratic Coalition is chaired by Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Kind and its membership includes Florida Democratic U.S. Reps. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, Gwen Graham and Patrick Murphy, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

“We are proud to once again receive the endorsement of the NewDem PAC,” Demings stated in an email to FloridaPolitics.Com.

She’s in a CD 10 Democratic primary with former Florida Democratic Party chairman Bob Poe, state Sen. Geraldine Thompson of Orlando and Orlando lawyer Fatima Rita Fahmy, among others.

“I am proud to join such key New Dem leaders as [Democratic U.S. Reps] Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, Joaquin Castro, Jared Polis, and others to get the job done for District 9 in Washington,” Soto said in a similar email. “The biggest issue facing our constituents is higher paying jobs and the New Dems are leading the way for our party.”

He’s in a CD 9 Democratic primary with Susannah Randolph and Dr. Dena Minning of Orlando and Valleri Crabtree of Kissimmee, among others.

The endorsements come with $5,000 checks from the NewDem’s political action committee.

“The NewDemPAC is dedicated to re-electing House New Democrats and electing dynamic, like-minded leaders who are committed to advancing a pro-growth, innovative policy agenda and message,” NewDemPAC Chairman U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, a Washington Democrat, stated in an email. “Val Deming and Darren Soto join a group of candidates who we believe will bring fresh ideas and renewed optimism to Congress.”

Yet the New Dems are not universally beloved in the Democratic Party, dismissed by some of the more progressive Democrats as being too moderate.

And some of Soto’s and Demings’ opponents in their races responded dismissively, suggesting the endorsements were just more mainstream establishment Democratic blessings.

Both CD 9 and CD 10 have large enough Democrat voting bases that both are considered relatively safe seats for the party. Neither has an incumbent running for re-election.

“I question the value of any endorsement when no other candidate was even considered,” Fahmy stated. “That sounds more like a rubber stamping by the establishment than a legitimate endorsement. This will backfire as the voters become aware of the backroom deals throughout this campaign.”

Randolph stated, “I’m proud of my consistent record of fighting for strong Democratic and Progressive values as reflected by my endorsements from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Democracy for America and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. I will continue to hold a solid progressive record once elected to Congress.”

And Poe wrote, “This brings the race into sharper focus. I am only interested in the endorsement of the voters I will represent, not the political establishment in Washington looking to get another vote they can control.”

Demings responded to Poe, saying he, too, had sought the NewDems’ endorsement. “This race has always been in perspective. Bob Poe’s response is typical of someone who is trailing behind in third place and thinks he can buy a congressional seat.”

Written By

Scott Powers is an Orlando-based political journalist with 30+ years’ experience, mostly at newspapers such as the Orlando Sentinel and the Columbus Dispatch. He covers local, state and federal politics and space news across much of Central Florida. His career earned numerous journalism awards for stories ranging from the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster to presidential elections to misplaced nuclear waste. He and his wife Connie have three grown children. Besides them, he’s into mystery and suspense books and movies, rock, blues, basketball, baseball, writing unpublished novels, and being amused. Email him at scott@floridapolitics.com.

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