Democratic Sen. Randolph Bracy on Tuesday announced what many Central Florida Democrats have been awaiting: He is running for Congress to succeed Rep. Val Demings.
POLITICO first reported Bracy’s candidacy Tuesday afternoon. He then began sharing his plans with other media to win Demings’ seat representing Florida’s 10th Congressional District, which covers much of western Orange County, the same as Bracy’s state Senate district.
“I’m running for Congress,” he said. “I’ve served this community now for almost 10 years. I love this community.
“And I believe I can serve this community well in Congress. Many of the issues that I’ve been fighting on, justice and equity, the real debate is going on in Washington right now,” Bracy said. “I’ve sponsored and passed a police reform bill. They’re debating one right now and can’t come to an agreement. This is just an example.”
Bracy, 44, of Ocoee, has served five years in the Senate and served four years in the House, representing western Orange County. He was the first black chairman of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.
He also has deep roots in the district. His father, Dr. Randolph Bracy, is pastor of one of the largest African American churches in the Orlando area, New Covenant Baptist Church, where he has served for decades. His mother, LaVon Wright Bracy, is an icon of Orlando civil rights and voter registration activism.
“Their work really laid the foundation for my service in this community,” he said.
Demings has represented CD 10 since 2017, but that seat is expect to open. She is all but declared as a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, to challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
Bracy is joining a Democratic Primary field that already includes civil rights lawyer Natalie Jackson of Orlando and is expected to pick up former State Attorney Aramis Ayala of Windermere soon. The trio all have top-shelf backgrounds in criminal justice reform.
As currently drawn, the district is solidly Democratic. Though redistricting is coming next year, CD 10 is likely to remain a Democratic stronghold, unless it is somehow squeezed entirely out of Orange County. The district currently takes in some wealthy suburban neighborhoods and suburbs, and nearly all of Orlando’s tourism corridor, and also the predominantly Black west side of Orlando. The latest Cook Political Report says the district leans Democrat by 11 points.
Two Republicans have entered the field, though neither has shown anything to suggest they might be significant challengers in the deep-blue district: Carter Morgan of Orlando, and Willie Montague, a youth support non-profit organization leader who ran in 2020, but lost badly in the Republican primary.
Bracy points out that his experience is in writing and ushering legislation — and he’s prepared to show that he has a record to show what he does.
“Funding for jobs, health care, education and housing are I would say the most important,” he said. “But the issues we’ve been fighting in Tallahassee are just as important. For example, fighting against the voter suppression bills and this anti-protest bill. You know I led the fight here in the state on that. I’ve worked to enhance state unemployment benefits, to decriminalize recreational marijuana. I obviously got the scholarship awards for Ocoee massacre descendants and Ocoee residents.”
Bracy has also been as active as any member of the Legislature in community service. Last year, instead of running a traditional reelection campaign in his safe district — he still won by a landslide in Senate District 11 — Bracy organized dozens of food distribution and voter registration events throughout his district.
“We’re still doing that. We had an event today where we sanitized people’s cars. We’re having these sanitation events across the district right now to make sure we provide a layer of safety and cleanliness as we come out of the pandemic. We’re still doing many community events of service as people come out of the pandemic,” he said.