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Florida Democratic Rep. Val Demings on Wednesday launched a Senate campaign to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
Demings, a former police chief of Orlando, Fla., touted her work as a cop in a video announcing her campaign — courting moderate voters but potentially alienating left-wing advocates of defunding or abolishing the police.
Her 2022 campaign is expected to draw major national attention. Florida has leaned Republican in recent elections, including last year when Latino voters helped hand former President Donald Trump a decisive win.
Demings, 64, gained prominence last year as one of seven managers of Trump’s first impeachment trial. Her performance won praise even within the White House from Trump aides.
Rubio, 50, was re-elected to a second term in 2016 by a nearly eight percentage-point margin — trouncing then-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.), who had received an outpouring of support from national Democrats who believed the centrist could flip the seat.
Demings touted her ascent from a modest upbringing and took a swipe at Trump in her debut video ad.
“People ask me: ‘Val, where do you get your tireless faith that things can always get better?’ I got it here in Jacksonville, Florida. When you grow up in the South poor, black and female, you have to have faith in progress and opportunity,” she said.
“My father was a janitor and my mother was a maid. She said, ‘Val, never grow tired of doing good. Never tire. Work hard, not just for yourself, but for others.’ So I went to Orlando to serve as a police officer.”
Demings said she “never got tired” of being a cop in her 27 years in law enforcement.
Of Trump, Demings said “we brought law and order to a lawless president.”
Florida is trending Republican in part because of a large exile community of conservative Latin Americans. Trump claimed often that Democratic economic policies would turn the US into a larger version of Venezuela.
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