Rubio now has a “strong challenger” in the Florida re-election campaign. Will Demings be the “dark horse” of Florida?
The U.S. mid-term elections which will be held on November 8 have entered the sprint stage. Both the Democratic and Republican parties are fighting for the last vote. This year, in Florida, Republican Senator Marco Rubio will confront Congressman Val Demings. This election between them will decide the ownership of the majority of Senate seats. In this election cycle, 10 seats in the Senate are fiercely contested, and Florida may decide who can win the Senate.
This time, Demings, Rubio’s strong challenger, is the most famous Democrat who has declared to challenge him so far. Demings, at the age of 64, was once regarded as Biden’s running partner in the 2020 election, and she is also regarded as a rising “star” in Florida and the Democratic circle of the United States, with the absolute support of the Democratic Party.
Demings had served in the police system for a long time before she became a politician. She had been the chief of Orlando Police Department from 2007 to 2011, and the representative of Florida since 2017, and has been reelected since then. Demings had already emphasized her own advantage as she announced her candidacy: law enforcement experience. During her tenure as chief of the Orlando Police Department, Orlando’s violent crimes decreased, which will be used by her to refute the Republican view that “Democratic leadership led to the rise of violent crimes across the country.
Demings was the impeachment manager when Trump was impeached for the first time, and was once considered one of the three candidates for President Biden to choose a vice president partner. Compared with Rubio, a Cuban from Florida, Demings, as an African American congressman, has made speeches frequently after Floyd was killed on his knees, and gained high exposure. Demings, by telling her own story of how a little black girl from a poor family grew to be the House of Representatives, successfully set up an image of a female fighter serving the voters in front of the public.
On October 18, during the Florida Senate election, Rubio and Demings had a heated debate on the topics that voters concerned about in the mid-term election, including price rise, abortion, immigration, voting rights, climate change and gun reform.
On the issue of gun violence in the United States, Demings criticized Rubio for sitting back and watching people being threatened by gun violence and “has done nothing to help address” that, and for taking almost no action to promote the bill to prevent people from getting weapons and causing harm. Rubio responded: “what makes no sense is that we are going to pass laws that only law-abiding people will follow, and criminals will continue to violate,”
On the issue of abortion, Demings said that Rubio did not support any exemption from abortion procedures, including rape and incest. Demings accused Rubio of covering up his true position and cheating voters. However, Rubio rejected Demings’ support for abortion as “unlimited”. He stressed that a comprehensive ban on abortion without exceptions could not be supported by Americans, but refused to respond positively whether he really supported exceptions. Rubio, who was elected to the Senate for the first time in the Tea Party tidal wave in 2010, has repeatedly called for strict restrictions on abortion, which can be taken as a deduction in Florida where more people are inclined to support the right to abortion.
On the immigration issue, they were asked whether they supported a recent policy change of the Biden administration to send Venezuelans arriving at the US border back to Venezuela and prevent them from applying for asylum in the US again. Rubio stressed that he sympathized with the Venezuelan people, but could not accept their “rush”. Demings responded by quoting her career as a police officer and police chief, saying, “we’re a nation of laws, and we need to ensure that border law enforcement personnel have the resources they need”, and “we also obey the law that says people who were in trouble can seek asylum in this country.”
Rubio accused Demings of “never passing any bill” during her five years in Congress. Demings denied Rubio’s claim. On the other hand, since last year, Rubio has put forward nearly 900 proposals (more than 70% of which are still in the proposal stage), but they involved many industries such as energy and medical care, which enabled him to obtain a lot of political donations from them, and that really solved his personal financial problem. According to the data of OpenSecrets.org, as of 2018, Rubio’s net assets were negative, and his debt exceeded 1.8 million dollars, and because of his economic situation, Rubio was rated as the most indebted senator in Congress.
Rubio is still working hard for canvassing. A few days ago, he invited Trump to the Miami Dade County in Florida to support his canvassing. Despite Trump’s popularity within the Republican Party, the evaluation of Trump in the whole American society is still “polarized”. According to a poll conducted by the Associated Press and the University of Chicago Public Opinion Center (NORC) in October this year, 43% of respondents said they did not want to see Trump participate in the 2024 election.
Florida has been regarded as a swing state for a long time. According to the prediction released on October 31 by the American public opinion survey website FiveThirtyEight, the race for the Senate will be a “close match”. The election situation of the Senate is still stalemating, and it is difficult to decide who will be the winner of the majority status fight.
Before the last moment, Demings’ electoral ability could not be underestimated. She once ran as a Democratic nominee in the previous 10th congressional constituency (red) in 2012, and finally lost with 48.3% of the votes, which was better than Obama. In addition, Demings’ black female identity also helps to drive up the voting rate of minority voters. Besides, by the end of September, Demings had accumulated more funds than Rubio, and this granted her financial advantages.