U.S. Rep. Val Demings to challenge Marco Rubio for U.S. Senate seat

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WEST PALM BEACH, Florida — U.S. Rep. Val Demings made it official Wednesday: She will challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio next year.

Demings, an Orlando Democrat, has been in the U.S. House since 2017. Rubio, a West Miami Republican, is completing his second term.

"I am running for the United States Senate because of two simple words: Never tire," she said in a campaign announcement video released Wednesday morning.

More: Demings ‘honored’ to be mentioned in vice president talk

Demings took aim at Rubio in the video saying he is among those "in Washington who prefer the same old tired ways of doing business."

Interspersed among photos of Rubio with former President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was a clip of Rubio's 2016 presidential debate stumbling. Demings claimed Rubio is "too tired" to fight voter suppression and instead embraces "tired talking points" and "backward solutions."

In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., speaks during debate ahead of a vote on calling witnesses during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.
In this image from video, House impeachment manager Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., speaks during debate ahead of a vote on calling witnesses during the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump in the Senate at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.

The Rubio campaign issued a statement Thursday calling Demings a "puppet" of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and touting Rubio's support for doubling the Child Tax Credit and fighting for Florida military veterans.

More: Trump impeachment: How Val Demings rose to House manager

“Marco’s contrast with Val Demings could not be greater because she has no record of results for Florida. Since coming to Washington, she has voted with Nancy Pelosi nearly 100% of the time," the statement said.

Rubio also claimed Demings "opposed tax relief for working families, and led the effort to put Washington in charge of Florida’s elections" and concluded "Florida deserves a Senator with a proven track record of fighting, and winning, for Florida families.”

Watch Val Demings' campaign announcement video here

For weeks, Demings had been taking thinly veiled aim at Rubio on Twitter.

Those salvos included tweets criticizing the Senate Republicans for not supporting legislation to create a bipartisan commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Citing her background in law enforcement, the former Orlando police chief tweeted that the police officers who were killed and injured deserved better from "cowardly politicians" who were "covering up" the violent attack on the U.S. democracy.

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The bulk of Demings' campaign announcement video, however, focused on her upbringing and past career in public service.

More: Who is Val Demings? Five things to know

She talked about growing up in Jacksonville "poor, Black and female" but with an abundance of "faith in progress and opportunity." Demings spoke of her parents. Her father was a janitor and her mother a maid who taught her "to work hard, not just for yourself but for others."

The nearly three-minute video also highlighted Demings' career as an Orlando police officer and police chief. The selections from past TV news clips included one of then-Orlando Mayor Buddy Dwyer saying that "under her leadership there has been the most dramatic decrease of violent crime in the city's history."

The video also extols her work in Congress, specifically her work in the impeachment proceedings against Trump, insisting "no one is above the law."

It concluded with an intimation of a campaign tour of some sort to "share more of my story with more of you" and what she said was a "simple question" she would put to voters.

"Can my unlikely story of opportunity expand to more Americans and more Floridians?" she said.

afins@pbpost.com

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Val Demings to challenge Marco Rubio for Florida's US Senate seat