Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings ended speculation he might seek a statewide office next year by announcing he intends to seek reelection to a second term.
Demings, speaking to journalists after his third State of Orange County address Friday, dispelled speculation that he and his wife, Rep. Val Demings, might create a Democratic top-of-ticket couple, with him running for Governor against Gov. Ron DeSantis while she solidifies her likely pursuit of the U.S. Senate against Sen. Marco Rubio.
Val Demings has not announced a Senate run but is arranging her infrastructure for one.
“I am going to run for reelection in Orange County. So I’m trying to put that to bed. I get asked about that all the time,” Mayor Demings said.
“Right now, my focus has been on dealing with the pandemic, not my reelection,” Demings added. “Obviously, I have had to push the kickoff of my reelection campaign into the not-too-distant future.”
In fact, he might wind up on the 2022 ballot with an Orange County tax increase he still wants to pursue, a sales tax boost to support a big transportation improvements package. Demings began pursuing that proposal in the spring of 2019 but suspended the effort in the spring of 2020 because of the coronavirus crisis.
Now, he said, he believes the Orange County economy is recovering swiftly enough that he expects to resurrect the sales tax proposal soon, perhaps in a matter of months, which could put it in line to be on the 2022 ballot.
And with his intention to run for reelection as Mayor, so would he be on that ballot. He did not seem concerned about that.
“I just feel like, I’m in public service, I’ve been in public service for 40 years,” said the former cop, Orlando Police Chief, Orange County Director of Public Safety, and Orange County Sheriff. “Timing is everything. I’ve always had impeccable timing. I believe the time is right now to advance this issue when our economy is completely and in full recovery.”