Val Demings makes it official, files challenge to Marco Rubio for Senate
Val Demings. Image via Renzo Downey.

Val Demings Tallahassee
'Marco Rubio will have to run against me. This race is between him and me.'

U.S. Rep. Val Demings on Tuesday officially filed campaign paperwork that will place her on the ballot to challenge U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

Bringing an aspirational message about opportunity while criticizing Republicans for resisting gun control measures and targeting Roe v. Wade, the Orlando Democrat traveled to Tallahassee to file her qualifying paperwork with the Department of State Division of Elections.

Demings, as the only major candidate on the Democratic side, is expected to face off against Rubio in November. It’s been nearly a year since Demings announced her campaign to unseat the two-term Republican, Florida’s senior Senator.

In a 15-minute speech detailing her career from social worker to Orlando Police Chief and now Congresswoman, Demings said Florida stands in the shadow of the shooting at a Uvalde, Texas, elementary school last week that killed 19 students and two teachers.

Demings advocated for the Senate to take up the universal background check legislation already passed by the U.S. House and a red flag law that is expected to come next. She also floated raising the nationwide minimum age to purchase a gun, particularly a long gun, to 21.

“I will never play political games with you or the lives of the people that you and Florida cares about,” Demings told reporters. “My opponent is all too willing to do that.”

Rubio and Florida’s junior Sen. Rick Scott support passing a red flag law similar to what was passed in the wake of the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Then-Gov. Scott signed the red flag law that year.

With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on the future of abortions looming, Demings also attacked Republicans for trying to close the window on abortions. In particular, she criticized provisions that don’t allow for abortions in cases of rape or incest.

“We refuse to go back to being treated like property or second-class citizens in America,” Demings said.

Leon County Sheriff Walter McNeil and Gadsden County Sheriff Morris Young backed Demings as she prepared to deliver her paperwork. Despite her 27 years in law enforcement, 55 of Florida’s 67 Sheriffs endorsed Rubio earlier this year. And just last week, the Florida Police Benevolent Association also endorsed the incumbent.

“I know that Marco Rubio wished that he could get one of those Sheriffs or Chiefs to run for him against me. Maybe he’s using them as cover; I don’t know,” Demings said. “But what I do know is this, that Marco Rubio will have to run against me. This race is between him and me.”

“At the end of the day, the voters will have a clear choice between someone who has been in elected office since 1998 … or someone who has put on a bulletproof vest at night, left my sons at home, tucked them in bed, to go to work and protect our community.”

With Florida trending redder in recent years and amid rising costs of living for which President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats will have to answer to voters, the race is sure to be an uphill battle for Demings. The latest poll, taken in February, shows Demings trailing Rubio by 12 percentage points.

After Demings filed her qualifying paperwork, the Rubio campaign criticized her as a “far-left radical.”

“Val Demings is on the wrong side of every issue that affects the day-to-day lives of Floridians. Demings went to Washington and immediately catered to the liberal elite instead of getting things done for Florida: her only accomplishment in Washington is renaming two post offices,” said Rubio campaign communications director Elizabeth Gregory. “As Election Day approaches, Floridians will get to know Val Demings as a far-left radical who has failed to deliver results for them when it really counts.”

Rubio ran for President in 2016, losing to Donald Trump in the Republican Primary. Demings isn’t eyeing a future presidential bid, she told reporters.

“I’m running to stay in the Senate,” Demings said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


  • Geoff Stabb

    June 2, 2022 at 11:50 am

    This woman is an accident waiting to happen, plus she always looks like her hair could use a wash. Gotta be brain dead to vote for Dems

    • Sister Mary Parry, Mother Vezzali Academy for Adroit Girls

      June 2, 2022 at 12:45 pm

      Dear Mister Stabb,
      Heavens. Your comment could be used by Merriam-Webster as a clear example of misogyny, right after their definition, “hatred of, aversion to, or prejudice against women.”
      You offer not one specific example of any political position Miss Demings has taken that you have a problem with, you offer just your clear problem with females.
      As such, your words are not helpful, witty, or wise on the subject of the above column by Renzo Downey. They merely speak volumes about you. If that was your intention, you surely succeeded, bless your heart.

  • Earl Pitts American

    June 2, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    At last its official all the owners and staff at F.P. have gathered in a circle and are enjoying their Val Demmings mutual Orgazz moments right now! Try not to visualise it though just know thats what they are doing.

Comments are closed.


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