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Could our next vice president be a Jacksonville native?

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., questions Jennifer Williams, an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, and National Security Council aide Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, as they testify before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019, during a public impeachment hearing of President Donald Trump's efforts to tie U.S. aid for Ukraine to investigations of his political opponents. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, Pool) (Jacquelyn Martin)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As political pundits continue to speculate about who Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will select as his running mate, one familiar Florida name keeps popping up — Val Demings.

Demings, a congresswoman who grew up in Jacksonville, is among a handful of female candidates under consideration after Biden pledged to make history by selecting the first woman to serve as vice president.

Other possible picks being discussed are more widely known politicians like California Sen. Kamala Harris, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and, recently, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

Out of everyone in the mix, former Congressman Jason Altmire said this week in an op-ed published by The Hill that Demings is the perfect choice as Biden’s running mate.

“She is the leader history has presented us at this unprecedented time. Hopefully, Joe Biden will take advantage of this moment and choose her as his running mate in this year like no other,” Altmire wrote.

The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board wrote in May that “Demings’ rise makes her a viable running mate for Joe Biden,” and noted the fact that she represents voters in Florida, a swing state, as a reason why she might be selected.

Demings, 63, is the youngest of seven children and grew up in the Mandarin neighborhood. She attended Jacksonville’s Wolfson High School in the early 1970s, the Orlando Sentinel reported in 2007.

She graduated from Florida State University with a criminology degree in 1979, becoming the first in her family to graduate from college. She went on to become a social worker in Jacksonville before joining the Orlando Police Department in 1983.

Over a 27-year career, Demings rose through the ranks and made history in 2007 when she was appointed to serve as Orlando’s first female Chief of Police.

“I would have never, ever have dreamed or imagined that this little girl from Jacksonville, Florida, would become police chief," she said after her appointment. “But you know what I did? I believed in myself. And I dreamed.”

Demings eventually entered politics and currently represents Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which covers the Orlando area. Her husband serves as the Mayor of Orange County.

Recently, Demings raised her national profile when she was on the House committee that investigated President Donald Trump’s Ukraine dealings. She was the only non-lawyer to serve as a House manager in January’s impeachment trial, the Sentinel reported.

House Democratic impeachment managers Rep. Sylvia Garcia, D-Texas, second from left, and Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., third from left, arrive on the Senate side of Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, for the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Biden spoke about Demings in May after joining her on a virtual campaign stop at a food bank in Orlando, Politico reported.

“She is one of a group of close to a dozen really qualified and talented women who are on the list,” Biden said. “She’s a very competent, very capable person.”

Demings told Politico that she’s honored just to be considered by Biden.

Biden has said that he does not plan to announce his vice presidential nominee until July or early August.

Biden will square off against President Trump in the November presidential election.

About the Author:

Digital reporter who has lived in Jacksonville for more than 25 years and focuses on important local issues like education and the environment.