In January 2020, U.S. Representative Val Demings, now 64, was one of the seven impeachment managers who prosecuted Donald Trump for improperly seeking help from Ukrainian officials in helping his reelection campaign.
Soon after the U.S. Senate decided to acquit the former president, the head of Florida’s Republican party Sen. Joe Gruters had this to say: Floridians “…won’t forget Demings’ role in this unfortunate chapter of history, and America won’t forget the Democrats’ cynical witch hunt at the ballot box in November.”
Fast forward to May 2021. You can expect Floridians will be reminded repeatedly about Demings’ role in Trump’s first impeachment trial in the months ahead. Last week Marc Caputo of Politico reported Demings, who is also a former Orlando police chief, is aiming to unseat Marco Rubio, the senior senator who first took his office in the senate in 2010. According to the article, Demings, who has also considered a run for governor, should come to a final decision in June. Rubio was outspoken in his stand against Trump’s impeachment both times.
Currently, the U.S. Senate is split 50-50 with two Florida Senators, Rubio and Rick Scott. Demings would not only tip the scales a bit, but the win would also make her the first African American in Florida ever to hold a statewide office.
The Politico article quoted former Florida chief financial officer Alex Sink who said, “…it was clear that (Demings) and national Democrats felt she would represent the party’s best chance to put Republicans on defense as they try to take back the U.S. Senate.’’
The article also quoted an unnamed adviser to Demings, who reasoned her decision to run against Rubio came from her growing frustration with the Florida senators’ working against President Biden as well as their voting against the Covid-19 bill.
Demings, who was in the spotlight last summer when she made the “shortlist’’ of potential running mates for Biden, was the only non-lawyer serving as a prosecutor during the impeachment trial. After the acquittal, she described the decision as “disappointing,’’ in an interview with NPR.
“The House managers were the defenders of the Constitution, and just like when I was a law enforcement officer, when I saw someone breaking the law, I did not stop and think about, well, my goodness, what will the judge do? What will the jury do down the road? I did my job to stop that threat and then go to court and plead my case,” she said.
In contrast, in January 2020, Rubio released a statement sharing his views on the impeachment towards the end of the impeachment trial. He wrote, “I will not vote to remove the President because doing so would inflict extraordinary and potentially irreparable damage to our already divided nation.”
Demings grew up in Jacksonville, the youngest of seven children. Her father, James Butler, was a janitor, and her mother, Elouise, was a maid. She was elected to the House in 2016 after serving on the police force for 27 years.
Demings received her bachelor of science degree in criminology from Florida State University and her master’s in public administration from Webster University. She is a graduate of the 226th session of the FBI National Academy and the FBI National Executive Institute. She is married to Jerry Demings, the current Orange County mayor. They have three sons and five grandchildren.
On the same day Politico broke the story on her run for senate, the online publication 19 posted an interview with Demings in which she discussed her view on running for higher office in Florida. In the article, Demings explained her opinion of Rubio’s work this way:
“…and then we have a senator (Marco Rubio), as we talk about voting rights, as we talk about the American Rescue Plan and helping people who are in crisis, the For the People Act, and so many pieces of legislation dealing with gun violence … Florida doesn’t have a senator who cares about those things.”