Joe Henderson: Val Demings’ ‘cop on the beat’ ad misses the mark
Val Demings. Image via Renzo Downey,

Val Demings Tallahassee gives Demings almost no chance of beating Marco Rubio.

It’s not easy these days to be a Democrat running for a statewide office in Florida. They face two opponents in every race — the Republican candidate and President Joe Biden.

Hard to say which one is a bigger obstacle.

Republicans blame Biden for, well, everything. They say it’s his fault that food, gas and housing all cost too much, and the President’s dwindling approval rating — especially in Florida — drags Democrats down with him.

A Democrat needs a bit of good fortune and a flawless campaign even to have a reasonable chance here. Which brings us to Val Demings, who is trying to unseat Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate. She was probably the Dems’ biggest hope heading into this election season, but she doesn’t seem to have much traction. gives Rubio a 94% chance of winning re-election. It projects him with nearly 65% of the vote.

What has Demings done to show that polling is wrong?

Not much.

She has a TV ad that touts her extensive experience as a police officer. She spent four years as Orlando’s Police Chief, and in the spot, she promised to be a “cop on the beat” in the U.S. Senate.

The ad has run for several weeks, and I think it’s lousy for two reasons.

First, she’s campaigning for a Senate seat, and that ad doesn’t address a single major issue that would resonate with Floridians. It’s a stretch to see how her experience in law enforcement correlates with the role of a Senator.

Besides, Rubio has endorsements from the Florida Police Benevolent Association and the Florida Fraternal Order of Police.

I agree with her statement in the ad that defunding the police is “just crazy.” It’s also true, though, that it could remind voters that the fringe element in her Democratic party proposed doing that.

Additionally, the “I’m a cop” theme risks turning off younger voters and minorities, many of whom have deep reservations about the police. She desperately needs both those groups to have any chance of sending Rubio home, but it’s not certain they’ll be there for her.

Maybe she’s trying to look tough, but there are better ways to do that.

She could — and should — hammer Rubio on his deep attachment to the National Rifle Association. A survey in February showed Rubio received $3.3 million in NRA donations, sixth-most among U.S. Senators.

Given recent mass murders by shooters using high-powered weapons, it’s surprising Demings hasn’t served that connection up to Rubio for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert.

Maybe she’ll get around to it, but it’s never too early to plant that seed, and she’s already missed a window to do that.

Remember how Rick Scott tagged Bill Nelson with the “out of touch” and “career politician” labels very early in their 2018 campaign for the U.S. Senate? The depiction stuck to Nelson like tar paper until the election, which he narrowly lost.

Back in this decade, Demings faces an additional hurdle in Gov. Ron DeSantis. He is massively popular — FiveThirtyEight gives him a 95% of beating Charlie Crist. DeSantis will push hard too, because anything less than a blowout victory could lead to questions about his 2024 presidential chances.

So, it follows that DeSantis will stress voter turnout, and his adoring Republican base will no doubt answer the call.

Those folks won’t vote for Demings.

Even worse, discouraged Democratic voters might sit this one out. Cleaning their dryer vents on Election Day could be a better option than casting a ballot.

Yeah, it’s not a pretty picture for Florida Democrats at the moment. Demings was supposed to be the one who could lift her fellow Dems through a strong, focused and spirited campaign.

I suppose it could still happen because anything goes in politics. However, this late in the campaign and with so little happening up to this point, that’s not a lot to hold on to.

Joe Henderson

I have a 45-year career in newspapers, including nearly 42 years at The Tampa Tribune. Florida is wacky, wonderful, unpredictable and a national force. It's a treat to have a front-row seat for it all.


  • Someone in Pinellas County

    July 6, 2022 at 2:52 pm

    “I agree with her statement in the ad that defunding the police is “just crazy.” It’s also true, though, that it could remind voters that the fringe element in her Democratic party proposed doing that.”

    The time for her to speak against “just crazy” public policy was when the push was on, and that was two years ago. Now it rings very, very hollow, indeed. Poor politics.

  • Craig Vincent Mitchell

    July 6, 2022 at 3:15 pm

    “It’s a stretch to see how her experience in law enforcement correlates with the role of a Senator.:….As opposed to little marcos quarter century as a government mule.

  • Ocean Joe

    July 6, 2022 at 4:26 pm

    Disagree. She needs name recognition and rising through the ranks to become police chief of one of Florida’s major cities, from a humble beginning is worth bragging about.

    • NoValNoGerry

      July 9, 2022 at 12:45 pm

      Even though she lost a fully automatic rifle and service pistol, along with body armor and her badge? As the chief of police? Because she couldn’t follow her own department’s simple policy of securing the equipment from the vehicle when parking it overnight? Right. She’s a shill. I didn’t even go into the fact that she advanced an impeachment that was based on fabricated and paid for “evidence” while having the knowledge that it was fabricated and paid for. Any police officer would know how to weigh evidence for validity. Backing false evidence shows she has no integrity.

  • Tom

    July 6, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    Yeah right Ocean, losing her gun shows responsibility. The other half of the Dum, Dum Demings team.

    Joe H, couldn’t agree with you more for change, even though you ain’t pleased bout America’s Gov ( anti Trump) and Marco. Both are on the way to bigly wins.

    Fraud and chameleon are a joke, and Dumings, ain’t ready for prime time. Supposedly she campaigned in Orlando Monday, that’s getting introduced in new state areas. LOL, genius. Maybe she was looking for her lost gun.

    Major “epic” mid term, Florida super leg majorities, pick up of 3 yo 4 house seats, Gov, Marco win big. New Congress, if recession, 50 house seats, if not 25 to 40. Get ready.

    America’s Gov, do for America what you’ve done for Florida.

  • ScienceBLVR

    July 6, 2022 at 8:05 pm

    Yes, it’s true.Desantis’s syncophants and adoring Village people won’t vote for Demings, but I will. Anyone but Rubio, who has done truly nothing to make this Floridian’s life better. And as far as the midterms go, I think the pollsters are dead wrong about a Red wave. The Reds are messing with women’s rights, and no matter where you are on the Abortion spectrum, no woman likes that. The stripping of reproductive rights might just tip the scale..we’ll see.

    • Tom

      July 6, 2022 at 9:30 pm

      It’s typical mis direction from mis believer, LMAO.
      U r Clueless, as Biden is mis believer.
      We’ are talking history.
      Biden is at 36% Monmouth, Dem poll.
      The lower the potus poll is the worse off party in power is.
      Abortion registered last, 5%. Total canard, fabrication.
      We are looking at 25 to 40 seats.
      If recession, 50 plus.
      I know these things, as political analyst. Rubio and Gov big wins.

    • Ol' Dendays

      July 7, 2022 at 8:21 am

      BLVR it or not, this ain’t the ’80s anymore. The tide has turned, and we aren’t going back to the days when some women bragged about the number of abortions they had as if it were a badge of honor. As for Rubio, he has been a moderating voice and a coalition builder, and he is going to be reelected without much real question.

    • Impeach Biden

      July 7, 2022 at 8:45 am

      Question? Where were you and the “My Body, My Choice” people when the government and businesses were forcing people to get vaccinated and boosted? Of course you will vote for Demings. You would also vote for Gillum, Wasserman-Schultz, members of The Squad, Joe Biden again, and on and on.

      • ScienceBLVR

        July 7, 2022 at 10:01 am

        Sorry Peach, but most of those Dems you named are not in my district. And I don’t think i have ever stated my preferences on mandatory vaccinations to fight a world wide pandemic, so how you would know my position on that(I was pro-choice on that issue, also) is surprising. I also think if you don’t know the difference between an woman’s individual personal choice to have an abortion, and a choice not to vaccinate yourself to help stem the spread of a disease that has affected millions, you may need to take some more science courses. Abortions and vaccinations are not the same procedure – just so you know..

  • Tom

    July 6, 2022 at 11:12 pm

    You Manchurians have a major ass kicking coming.
    You wait to see what happens to individual Dems being expelled as minority party In Congress. Merciless.
    The new Repub. majority in House will be a 10 yr majority.
    Wait til Florida legislature sweeps, super majority’s.
    Dems will continue irrelevancy in State.

  • martin

    July 7, 2022 at 7:43 am

    yeah, a cop who “lost” her service weapon. She instills nothing trustworthy what-so-ever.

Comments are closed.


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