JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida’s Senate showdown is expected to be one of the closest and most high profile races of the midterms in 2022. There are two nationally known candidates, with former presidential candidate and Senior Sen. Marco Rubio facing a challenge from U.S. Rep. Val Demings.
Both lawmakers are vying for the votes of Floridians. Demings became a leader in the push to impeach then-President Trump and was vetted as a candidate to become now President Joe Biden's running mate.
Demings has made history before as the first woman and African American to head the Orlando Police Department, but can the Jacksonville native make history again? If elected, Demings would become the state of Florida’s first Black senator and only the second woman to serve the state in that role. Republican Paula Hawkins who lost re-election in 1988 was the first.
The midterm election is swiftly approaching. Announcements are being made, insults slinging, all to be interpreted by voters who yearn for life to simply get better.
"Voting rights, women's rights, equal rights -- I think those are pretty important pieces of legislation, and the Senate is the place to get that done," Demings said.
Speculation has been running wild for months -- would the Democratic congresswoman, Orlando's first Black police chief with Jacksonville roots, take on Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, popular among his base, or run another tough race against Sen. Marco Rubio, who hails from Florida's most populous county of Miami-Dade?
“The Senate is the place that I believe that I can do the greater good,” Demings said.
An announcement was made in late May, followed by buzz and energy on both sides of the aisle, but the presence of Congresswoman Val Demings seemingly fizzled over the months to follow.
Demings says it's a critical time in the House of Representatives. She's been doing her job in Congress, raising funds online and traveling the state.
“I didn't invite the media, but I have been meeting with people, talking about things that are important to them,” Demings said.
The infrastructure law, the housing crisis, health and safety are all issues the Florida State graduate has taken on as she takes on a well funded opponent serving in his second term in the Florida Senate.
If elected, Demings would become the state's first Black senator.
“When I think about that, it's kind of sad,” Demings said. “If it makes history, it will be recorded in the history books, but let's work to serve the people."