GOP Sen. Marco Rubio is projected to have won a third term in the Senate.
Rubio defeated Democratic Rep. Val Demings, a former Orlando police chief.
A former GOP presidential candidate, Rubio looks to have easily won the contest.
Sen. Marco Rubio is projected to have beaten Democratic Rep. Val Demings.
Decision Desk HQ and Insider project Rubio will win his third term in the Senate as of 8 pm EST.
Florida's Senate race candidates
Rubio has been in the US Senate since 2011. He rose quickly in politics at a young age, serving as speaker of the Florida House from 2006 to 2008 while he was still in his 30s.
In 2016, he unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for president, which ultimately went to Donald Trump.
After losing the White House race, Rubio decided to run for his Senate seat again — contradicting a previous pledge to leave Congress in 2017. Voters didn't hold it against him, and Rubio easily held onto his seat. His reelection message to voters during the 2022 cycle has stressed his accomplishments — such as doubling the child tax credit and helping to craft the Paycheck Protection Program during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Demings has been in the US House since 2017. Prior to serving in Congress, she served in law enforcement for 27 years, including as Orlando's first female police chief. Demings was among the impeachment managers for Trump's first trial, a role that landed her among the top-tier candidates to be Joe Biden's vice presidential running mate.
Her campaign cast her as a centrist and has played up her law-enforcement background, calling her "Chief Demings" in campaign materials.
Both Rubio and Demings are history-making politicians. Rubio is fluent in English and Spanish and is the son of Cuban immigrants who grew up in Miami. Demings is Black and was Orlando's first female police chief. No Black women currently serve in the US Senate.
Florida's voting history
In presidential elections, Florida went twice for former President Barack Obama, and then twice for Trump. The Sunshine State has long been known as the largest swing state in the United States, but that may be changing. Florida hasn't had a Democratic US senator since 2018, when Bill Nelson was in office.
As of Election Day in Florida, Republicans have out-registered Democrats by roughly 270,000 people.
Still, Democrats in Florida see Rubio as vulnerable against Demings, and have invested far more into the Demings-Rubio race than into the Florida governor's race.
The money race
Demings has been one of the most successful fundraisers in the Senate ahead of the 2022 midterm election, raising nearly $64.7 million as of September 30, according to OpenSecrets. She spent $58.8 million, and has $6.6 million cash on hand. In comparison, Rubio has raised $44.2 million, spent $34.7 million, and has $9.6 million on hand, as of September 30.
Through late October, super PACs, national party committees, and other non-candidate groups have combined to spend about $9 million to advocate for or against the two candidates, with Rubio benefitting from most of it.
What experts say
The race between Rubio and Demings is rated as "likely Republican" by Inside Elections, "likely Republican" by The Cook Political Report, and "likely Republican" by Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics.
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