Val Demings raised an impressive $8.4 million during the third quarter, a state record for a non-election year. The Florida Democrat hasn’t even secured her party’s nomination but she hopes to run against two-term incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio next November.
“This will be the strongest campaign in Florida’s history — a campaign that goes everywhere and cedes no ground,” campaign manager Zach Carroll said in a statement.
Demings, who’s served in the U.S. House since 2017, announced her candidacy this summer. The former police chief was briefly considered a potential running mate for then-presidential candidate Joe Biden, before he settled on the inauthentic, cackling Kamala Harris.
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With the new census, Florida’s state legislature could redraw her district, making a reelection bid for Demings more challenging.
Like former Democrat Rep. Patrick Murphy, whom Rubio easily defeated six years ago, Demings hopes to paint her opponent as out of touch with his constituents.
For his part, Rubio is already linking Demings to the socialist “Squad,” noting she votes with radicals like controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) more than 90 percent of the time.
Val Demings votes with👇 over 90% of the time https://t.co/BUPlVcmlgk
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) June 9, 2021
Rubio raised $6 million in the third quarter. Overall, he has almost $10 million in cash on hand to Demings’ $6 million.
In the years since his 2016 presidential run, Rubio has often moved in a populist direction, while still displaying his usual well-informed views on national security matters, especially when it comes to China, Cuba, and Venezuela.
“As the son of Cuban immigrants who came to America for freedom and opportunity, there is no better messenger for the traditional American Dream than Marco Rubio,” Republican fundraiser Eric Levine told PJ Media Wednesday night. “Rubio is one of most articulate and intelligent politicians today and he, better than most anyone, will be able to point to the disconnect between the false narrative advanced by the Progressives and the true nature of America. It is no coincidence that Hispanic voters are abandoning the Democrats and voting Republican in record numbers.”
A poll of more than 400 likely Florida voters from September found the sitting senator up four points, with 15 percent undecided.
RealClearPolitics tracking from two months ago showed Rubio ahead in a hypothetical matchup.
In a cycle that should be strong for them, Republicans need to pick up at least one Democrat-held seat and have Rubio hold the Sunshine State in order to retake the U.S. Senate in 2022.