Val Demings wins Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in Florida primary

U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., center, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, waves to supporters as her husband, Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, right, applauds during a primary election party on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) (Phelan M. Ebenhack, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Val Demings easily won the Democratic nomination to challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio this fall.

Demings, a former police chief and a prodigious political fundraiser, has a chance to become Florida’s first Black female senator.

While some Democrats are hopeful that Demings can unseat Rubio, the party’s national leadership is prioritizing competitive Senate contests in other states, including neighboring Georgia, Arizona and Pennsylvania.

U.S. Senate - Florida - Democratic Primary

The winner will face incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, NPA candidates Steven B. Grant and Tuan TQ Nguyen, and Libertarian Dennis Misigoy in the General Election. Four write-in candidates also qualified in the race.

Candidate

Votes

%

Ricardo De La Fuente(D)
00%
Val Demings(D)
00%
William Sanchez(D)
00%
Brian Rush(D)
00%

Demings was optimistic as she reflected on her unlikely life story before a crowd of cheering supporters.

“Together, I really do believe this daughter of a maid and janitor who is not supposed to be standing here tonight — I really do believe that together we can do anything,” she said.

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Democrats are entering the final weeks ahead of the midterms with a sense of cautious optimism, hoping the Supreme Court’s decision overturning a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion will energize the party’s base. But Democrats still face tremendous headwinds, including economic uncertainty and the historic reality that most parties lose seats in the first midterm after they’ve won the White House.

The dynamics are especially challenging for Democrats in Florida, one of the most politically divided states in the U.S. Its last three races for governor were decided by 1 percentage point or less. But the state has steadily become more favorable to Republicans in recent years.

For the first time in modern history, Florida has more registered Republicans — nearly 5.2 million — than Democrats, who have nearly 5 million registered voters. Fried serves as the only Democrat in statewide office. And Republicans have no primary competition for four of those five positions – governor, U.S. Senate, attorney general and chief financial officer — which are all held by GOP incumbents.