When U.S. Rep. Val Demings officially announced her run for the U.S. Senate Wednesday, top GOP leaders including rival U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio immediately issued a statement or took to social media with criticism.
Demings, an Orlando Democrat, launched her effort to unseat Rubio in 2022 in a video posted in the morning on YouTube. She was the first female chief of police in Orlando before winning Florida’s 10th Congressional seat in 2016.
Demings once was on the shortlist for vice president in the Biden administration and she was a tough adversary during the U.S. House impeachment inquiry into then-President Donald Trump.
Rubio, who is from Miami, said in a Twitter video Wednesday morning:
“Look I’ve always known that my opponent for the Senate was going to be a far left, liberal Democrat…I’m looking forward to this campaign because it’s going to offer the people of Florida a very clear difference.”
Last month, Demings had signaled she’d challenge Rubio and was among several potential contenders from Central Florida.
Following her announcement, Helen Aguirre Ferré, former communications chief for Gov. Ron DeSantis, called Demings “a political opportunist” in a press release from the Republican Party of Florida:
“Just look at her voting record…The Real Val Demings has voted with (U.S. House Speaker Nancy) Pelosi 100% of the time, and like Pelosi would defund our police, lockdown our economy, close our schools, raise taxes on working families, gut the 2nd amendment, and let the crisis at our border get worse.”
Meanwhile, in Demings’ nearly three-minute campaign video, she spoke about her career serving 27 years as a police officer in Orlando and eventually being promoted to chief of police.
During her career in law enforcement, Demings said she was able to lower the crime rate in Orlando.
Demings explained in the video how she came from humble beginnings, growing up with two parents and seven children in a small house in Jacksonville. Her father worked as a janitor and her mother was a maid.
She recalled when her mother told her to “never grow tired of doing good.”
“People ask me, ‘Val where do you get your tireless faith that things can always get better? I got it here in Jacksonville Florida,” Demings said.
“When you grow up in the South poor, Black and female, you have to have faith in progress and opportunity.”