Val Demings faces Democratic challengers ahead of expected matchup with Marco Rubio

Three other Democrats appear on the Primary ballot.

The U.S. Senate race in Florida may be shaping up as one of the most closely watched contests in the country. But a Democratic Primary leading into the race seems a forgettable formality.

The contest in many senses felt over as soon as U.S. Rep. Val Demings announced she would challenge Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.

A former Orlando Police Chief, a short list running mate contender for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign and one of the House managers for the first impeachment of Donald Trump, her entry inspired immediate excitement.

U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy quickly decided not to run herself, apparently determining it would be difficult if not impossible to defeat Demings for the nomination. Other challengers eventually reached the same conclusion, including former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, former congressional candidate Allen Ellison or Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell, who all chose to run for U.S. House seats instead.

But Demings wasn’t just handed the nomination either. On Aug. 23, she faces three other Democrats: Ricardo de la Fuente, Brian Rush and William Sanchez.

Sanchez, a lawyer and son of Cuban immigrants, has proven the most successful fundraiser among Democrats not named “Val.” He has raised more than $260,000 for the state run through Aug. 3. That’s nothing compared to the nearly $48 million raised by Demings, but he’s been able to pour six figures into the race to reach Democratic voters ahead of the Primary vote. Before running, he co-founded nonprofit groups such as City Kids Inc. and the Philippine Charities Foundation — and now wants to make a difference in Washington.

“I want to be part of the new movement that is bringing in progressive change,” Sanchez said in a video that launched his campaign last year.

Brian Rush, a former state Representative, rose to Majority Whip in the Florida House. While in state government, he championed public education, and served as Vice Chair of the House K-12 Education Committee. His family was long active in the St. Petersburg community.

His campaign has gone openly negative against Demings, calling her “out of touch” and criticizing a voting record he said contributed to inflation. “We need a change in Congress and a new direction to fight rising prices,” Rush said in an online digital video. But having raised just over $46,000 for the statewide campaign up until Aug. 3, he has limited means to put his messaging in front of voters.

Meanwhile, de la Fuente has reported no fundraising over the court of the race. He may be able to borrow a little name recognition from his father, Rocky de la Fuente, who has repeatedly run for Senate in Florida and other states, and even made a bid for President in 2016 and 2020. A long list of campaigns never resulted in a similar list of wins, but at least the family name has appeared in front of voters plenty of times.

Like his father, Ricky de la Fuente has run for federal office in multiple states before including Florida, California and Texas, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

“While Florida will continue to face challenges in extreme weather events, affordable health care for all, and meaningful well-paying job creation, I am prepared to defy both the odds and the political structures to fight together for the future of every Floridian,” he wrote on his website.

But the contest remains Demings’ to lose. She’s massively outraised all Democratic competitors and has already built up a national network of supporters and a profile to match.

Additionally, polls show her to be increasingly competitive against Rubio. Two polls published this month, one from Change Research and another from Clarity Campaign Labs, showed her even with Rubio among likely voters, and a University of North Florida even showed her 4 percentage points up.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected].


  • Elliott Offen

    August 22, 2022 at 8:55 am

    Go Val Demings!!! Need a platoon of security for encounters with dangerous terrorists like Laura Loomer. Next time security should clothesline and body slam Loomer. Groups should be ruthlessly gunned down because these right wingers are major terrorist threat.

    • Rufua

      August 22, 2022 at 6:23 pm

      Typical fascist and communist idea. Murder those who disagree with you.

    • Christopher Gerhard

      August 23, 2022 at 12:22 am

      Elliot you need prison time. Your just as bad but the difference is the right wingers you speak of didn’t threaten you.

  • Impeach Biden

    August 22, 2022 at 8:56 am

    Question for Val. Will you have the Biden /Harris clown show campaign for you? I bet Val and every other “D” running for office will stay far away. Of course Val will have to support her party’s platform like the defund movement, southern border and economics. Should be very entertaining.

    • Joe Corsin

      August 22, 2022 at 9:24 am

      ^ Far right propaganda… nonsense.

      • Fred

        August 22, 2022 at 10:58 am

        Anything to the right of Lenis is “far right propaganda” to you Commies. What that person posted was logical, pertinent, and more importantly, TRUE.

        • Elliott Offen

          August 22, 2022 at 11:11 am

          No… anything to the left of Hitler is far left to you idiots. Nice try though. Your kung fu jujitsu chicanery has limits….like won’t fly outside of highschool 😆

          • LittleJohnny

            August 22, 2022 at 4:11 pm

            Hitler wasn’t right wing. National SOCIALISM is just another form of SOCIALISM. Moron.

          • TrumpisHITLER

            August 22, 2022 at 8:05 pm

            Elliott thank you for actually having an IQ. It is much appreciated.

          • Coogan Alaska

            August 23, 2022 at 4:33 am

            Got news for you Skippy. Hitler was a socialist. That is a leftist more akin to the Democrat party of today.

        • I hate morons who love Trump

          August 22, 2022 at 5:44 pm

          Calling random people Commies was big between the 1930’s and 1950’s. By the mid 50’s Senator Joseph McCarthy took things too far and used that slur to ruin the lives of many innocent people who he didn’t like or didn’t agree with. In 1957, a TV reporter named Edward R. Murrow did a one-on-one interview with McCarthy and in 20 short minutes made the nation see him as the small-minded bigot that he was. McCarthy disappeared from the political scene after that. Are you one of those small-minded bigots too?

          • Bterclinger

            August 22, 2022 at 11:42 pm

            As opposed to you actual voters for Marxism repeatedly calling Trump and 70 million who voted for him “nazis”?

            You never stopped after “… racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic — Islamophobic — you name it”!

            Here’s what voting for Dems brings:

            you voted for and got: open borders and flooding the country with 2 million unvetted more untested illegals who are depressing the wages and taking the jobs of America’s working poor, and straining welfare, healthcare, school and police budgets;

            Transportation and home energy costs doubling because Biden won’t drill or frack and closed pipelines, leading to the highest inflation in decades and a recession.

            Grooming children for the gay transgenda;

            Bidens Lynch Mob
            Burn Loot & Murder
            Buy Lotsa Mansions; Defunding the police and weakening bail requirements and lowering prison sentences leading to more violent crime;

            Leaving $8o billion in weapons to the Taliban some of which is going to iran, which is closer than ever to having nukes.

            Good job Trump-hating Biden voters.

          • Gene

            August 23, 2022 at 12:59 am

            Are you in the 1950s. If you were Stalin was alhive and hell. You talk about hundreds of innocents lifes ruined-and lost jobs:at dc trials I believe it was 200, but yes some of those proved to be spies too. Dare to compare First stalin gave us a ukraine and kazah holocaust sin the 1930s, add to that gulags where we are not talking 200 losing jobs, but 10 million dieing and over 10% of the entire population incarcerated(16%closer-)- not just job loss, life lost forever. Add to that 2 sets of jews- rosenbergs team and later kovals ream team(putin thanked) giving our atomic crown jewels away- for free, nooo for a lotta payback down the road- as putin thanked kovals and lassar forever grateful. Add to that top cop general and 2 term president eisennhower said rosenbergs alone were respongeable for get this 10s of millions of deaths(4 million in just the korean war resulted from). Now what were you slaying apout joe there. 10s of millions verses 200. Do the math val

        • FredisMisled

          August 22, 2022 at 8:03 pm

          You are just running around in a hurry yelling commies at people you’ve never met. You’re an absolute wack job sir!

      • Timmy

        August 22, 2022 at 2:04 pm

        Go Val. You are a breath of fresh air. It’s time for this Cuban interloper to be sent to some foreign land, maybe Russia.

    • Jeanette Palmer

      August 22, 2022 at 3:24 pm

      Joe Biden has the best numbers of any first year president and has signed into law more legislation than did the Ochre Oaf, IF you could get him off the golf course, did, in 4 years.


      Help release FL from its 23 year Republican-caused decline!

      • Biff Jones

        August 22, 2022 at 4:16 pm

        Delusion is a powerful drug. Biden is a pure Clown. And no, I am not a Republican

      • Jay

        August 22, 2022 at 8:27 pm

        Your joking right you don’t really believe what your saying.

    • Wowthesefolksaredumb

      August 22, 2022 at 8:02 pm

      You aren’t referring to the same “defund”the trumpees are now talking about are you? You know, the whole “defund the FBI” movement. How they want to defund the FBI for holding Trump accountable for high crimes? Like treason, ya know? Oh shucks, god forbid there are a few folks in this country that would like to preserve democracy.

      • Patrick

        August 22, 2022 at 8:20 pm

        Jesus I didn’t realize there were mouth breathing idiots such as yourself in Florida.

  • John Smith

    August 22, 2022 at 11:05 am

    They have unlimited fiat money to dump into state campaigns. Scurrying candidates around to rubber stamp their destruction . Big financiers and Big tech with ill-gotten free money. No grassroots, but astroturf.

    • Joe Corsin

      August 22, 2022 at 11:53 am

      And yet a mountain of gold bullion would not get Trump elected again.
      Why? Fake News? Deep state? Stolen election? Who wouldn’t want a greasy New York billionaire, lying azzhole for president?🍩

      • Michael Moore

        August 22, 2022 at 4:01 pm

        But, but, but Trump.

  • Demtor

    August 22, 2022 at 11:06 am

    poop here poop there , thats about it

  • MimiB

    August 22, 2022 at 11:12 am

    Rubio is a do nothing politician. He’s ineffective and doesn’t serve the people of Florida. He also has one of the worst attendance records. He doesn’t deserve another term.

    • Jeanette Palmer

      August 22, 2022 at 3:26 pm


  • Russell Barbee

    August 22, 2022 at 11:51 am

    Marco Rubio has tried running for President. He’s known nationally, and in Florida too, but no one, ( anywhere ), seems impressed with anything Rubio’s done. In fact, no one knows “anything”, Rubio has ever done legislatively, state-wide. Does Rubio have any accomplishments in Florida? Any at all? So, what would energize voters to reinstate Marco Rubio? Only “inertia”? “Identity Politics”? The Cuban-American “thing”? That’s what happens with most career politicians. They have no accomplishments of any significance, ( or none at all ). Only “momentum” keeps them in office. The same old, ___ same old. This is a perfect example of why Americans are screaming for “term limits”. Rubio’s a young man. He should get a job.

    • I know history

      August 22, 2022 at 6:02 pm

      @LittleJohnny. Let’s get some history straight. In World War II, there were two sides that fought each other. It was the Axis nations, Germany, Italy and Japan who were opposed by much of the rest of the world including the United States, Great Britain and The Soviet Union (Russia). They were called The Allies. The Axis nations were also called the Fascists. Communism (as it existed in Russia at that time) and Fascism are opposites. Hitler may have called his movement the National Socialists (or NAZIs) but form the time that they took control in Germany, they never advocated socialism.

  • Stéphane BACH

    August 22, 2022 at 1:18 pm

    No colored nor white Democrats

    • Timmy

      August 22, 2022 at 2:08 pm

      Bach off!!!

  • tom hell

    August 22, 2022 at 1:41 pm

    wow? Val damming’s only claim to fame is she will show up for roll call. What a qualification according to her she won’t miss any Fla issues , Oh! crap what about when the congress of the US has a voting sessions in DC? Can you say QUACK QUACK! Low and behold the dems see this a critical issue without the circumstances’ being known. Kind of like “you can see what’s in the bill once you vote for the bill” or the famous lie you can keep your plan and no one will take the choice of doctors away

    • Timmy

      August 22, 2022 at 2:12 pm

      Your insurrectionist twice impeached thrice married quadrple bankrupt serial pu**y grabbing treasonous piece of brain-dead filth laughs diligently daily at his ignorant sheeple. Take a fookn bow!

      • Ralph Charles

        August 22, 2022 at 4:18 pm

        All of the things you said, and he still married better than you all three times, he has more money than you, he has accomplished more than you…but hey, you love mentally incompetent Joe Biden, his crack head son, inflation, and crime

        • Timmy

          August 22, 2022 at 4:51 pm

          Poor clueless you. And it’s only Monday☘️

  • Michael Moore

    August 22, 2022 at 4:00 pm

    I don’t see anything about Val Demings losing her service revolver when she was Chief of Police in Orlando. She left weapon in her unlocked police car in her driveway. City Mayor Buddy Dyer disciplined her with a note to her file. The story only came to light because of a whistle blower. All this was reported in the Orlando Sentinel.

    • AOC

      August 22, 2022 at 4:04 pm

      Maybe it’s just me but, protecting your weapon should be one of the most basic duties of any police officer.

      • Ozzonelayyer

        August 22, 2022 at 4:24 pm

        I’m pretty sure they are told that when it’s issued to them.

    • jim6555

      August 22, 2022 at 6:28 pm

      And does that mistake in an otherwise unblemished law enforcement career make her less of qualified to serve in the US Senate? She’s running against a person who, despite having spent almost 12 years in the United State Senate, has done little to advance the interests of the people of this state. Marco Rubio has always voted for the legislation sponsored by the big money interests. Would he vote for a Senate bill that would overturn Roe v Wade? I doubt it. Val Demings has said that she will.

    • Russell Barbee

      August 23, 2022 at 8:08 am

      Yes, if Val Demings’ car was “unlocked”, that’s inexcusable. But more importantly, we have many former law enforcement officials, nowadays, that have become politicians. But, if they’re soft-on-crime, and lax on enforcement, then their attractive resumes mean nothing!! The public remains awash in criminals.

  • Ralph Charles

    August 22, 2022 at 4:13 pm

    Florida may be the best State of all 50; only a moron would want to overturn the apple cart and bring in a Politician who mirrors those Politicians in Chicago, California, NY, etc…. yes, let’s throw Rubio out and vote in a Democrat so we can increase crime, homelessness, and drugs

  • Ozzonelayyer

    August 22, 2022 at 4:23 pm

    Florida is not going blue like a lot of demented leftist souls here think. On the contrary, it’s swinging further red.

    But go ahead thinking a DemocRAT has a chance taking Rubio’s seat.

  • Jack Shepard

    August 22, 2022 at 4:44 pm

    So you admit that you are to the LEFT of HITLER?
    Sounds like we know who the IDIOTS are…

  • Glen Lowrey

    August 22, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    Another affirmative action hire. At least we won’t have to put up with her here in Orlando.

  • Johny

    August 22, 2022 at 6:28 pm

    The vote should be for someone who would uphold the constitution and family values that tha clown in office have been trying to get rid of.. if we destroy the family unt, then we destroy the nation.

Comments are closed.


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