Democratic Rep. Val Demings of Florida is planning to launch a 2022 Senate campaign to challenge two-term Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, two sources familiar with the congresswoman’s plans confirmed to Fox News on Tuesday.
Demings’ run would give the Democrats a nationally known and high-profile candidate in the race against Rubio, who was first elected to the Senate in the 2010 Tea Party wave. Rubio, who grabbed plenty of national attention during his 2016 GOP presidential run, has already filled his campaign coffers ahead of his 2022 reelection bid.
Demings, who is Black, spent nearly three decades in law enforcement, rising through the ranks to become the Orlando Police Department’s first female police chief. Last year she was seriously considered as now-President Biden’s running mate.
In this July 29, 2020 file photo, Rep. Val Demings, D, Fla., speaks during a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. Demings is planning to challenge Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, giving Democrats a boost in a competitive 2022 race that could decide control of the Senate. That’s according to two people with knowledge of the plans. (Mandel Ngan/Pool via AP)
“Val is an impressive and formidable candidate whose potential entrance would make the race against Rubio highly competitive,” a national Democrat with knowledge of the campaign told Fox News.
But Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, the chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), told Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade on Fox News Radio’s “Brian Kilmeade Show” that Rubio “represents the state. He really cares about the issues. So I don’t think anybody in Florida could run and beat him right now.”
And NRSC communications director Chris Hartline told Fox News that “Senator Rubio will have a big win no matter who the Democrats throw at him.”
Demings spent the last couple of months mulling whether to run for the Senate or launch a campaign to take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who’s also up for reelection next year.
The congresswoman is expected to make her Senate announcement in the coming weeks, a separate source shared with Fox News. Word of Demings’ plans was first reported by Politico.
Even before her official announcement, Demings is already grabbing support.
The Collective PAC, which describes itself as the “largest consortium of organizations dedicated to Black political representation across all levels of government,” quickly backed her.
“We are proud to endorse @Val_Demings from Florida for the U.S Senate. Now more than ever, we need leaders who are committed to criminal justice reform, voting rights security, and accountability for unethical behavior. Rep. Demings is the change that the U.S. Senate needs,” the group tweeted.
Demings may have competition for the Democratic Senate nomination. Rep. Stephanie Murphy is also mulling a 2022 run against Rubio.
Rubio told reporters on Capitol Hill on Tuesday that “there’s going to be a lot of Democrats running” and said he looks forward to facing off against which ever candidate wins the Democratic primary.
In the race for governor, former GOP governor-turned-Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist announced his candidacy earlier this month, and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried appears all-but-certain to launch a campaign.
Fox News’ Jason Donner contributed to this report