Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., is seen during a House judiciary committee hearing at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2020. File Photo by Mandel Ngan/UPI/Pool | License Photo
May 18 (UPI) -- Rep. Val Demings will run against Florida Sen. Marco Rubio next year, giving Democrats a high-profile candidate to challenge for what's expected to be a potential flip seat, according to media reports Tuesday.
Demings, the former Orlando police chief who's in her third term in the House, was on President Joe Biden's shortlist for vice president before he settled on Kamala Harris. Demings also served as a Democratic impeachment manager during former President Donald Trump's first trial in early 2020.
Demings, 64, has long been said to be considering challenging Rubio. Florida Politics, Politico, CNN and The Washington Post reported Tuesday that she's made the decision.
Demings was also said to be considering a run to challenge Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Both Rubio and DeSantis have been criticized in recent years for their support of former President Donald Trump. Rubio voted to acquit Trump during both impeachment trials in 2020 and 2021.
"I would've supported her running for governor, but this is the right fit for her and for us," Alex Sink, a former Democratic Florida gubernatorial candidate, told Politico. "She's going to draw a contrast between who she is and how she represents Florida vs. Marco Rubio, who a lot of people where I live never see him."
Former Florida Gov. Rep. Charlie Crist announced earlier this month that he will run against DeSantis and could ultimately be the Democratic front-runner in that race.
Demings is married to Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, which some believe will make her a formidable candidate in central Florida and able to credibly speak to hot-button issues like police reform.
If she won the general election, Demings would become the first Black U.S. senator from Florida and only the state's second female senator.
Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, former Florida prosecutor Aramis Ayala and former Rep. Alan Grayson have also hinted that they were considering running against Rubio.
The 2022 midterm elections are expected to be a bellwether for President Joe Biden's administration and gauge how much support Trump still wields over the Republican Party. It could also give Democrats greater control of the Senate, or swing power back to the Republicans.
Democrats presently hold the slightest of edges in the upper chamber, with Harris as a tie-breaking vote for the 50-50 partisan split.