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Florida Rep. Val Demings launches 2022 campaign against Sen. Marco Rubio

Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., speaks during a hearing of the House judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, commercial and administrative law at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2020. File Photo by Graeme Jennings/UPI
Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., speaks during a hearing of the House judiciary subcommittee on antitrust, commercial and administrative law at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 2020. File Photo by Graeme Jennings/UPI | License Photo

June 9 (UPI) -- Democratic Florida congresswoman Val Demings on Wednesday officially entered the race to challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio for his seat next year.

Demings said last month that she planned to challenge Rubio in the 2022 Senate race. Wednesday, she made it official with a video posted online, in which she says she's not afraid of what's expected to be a difficult campaign.

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Demings, a former police chief in Orlando, Fla., who's in her third term in the House, was on President Joe Biden's shortlist for vice president before he chose Kamala Harris. She also served as a Democratic impeachment manager during the first trial of former President Donald Trump last year.

Democrats have eyed Rubio's seat as a possible pickup in 2022, when they will try to expand their very slim margin in the upper chamber.

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"I know how to get through tough times, and I think we would all agree that we're in some really tough, unusual times right now," Demings told the Orlando Sentinel. "But I'm not afraid of a tough fight. We are dealing with some critical issues and we need bold, courageous leaders to deal with those issues."

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She accused Rubio of not having "enough courage to fight for Florida."

"My mother told me when someone gives you the opportunity to do something big, do not disappoint them," Demings says in the video. "I'm running for the United States Senate because of two simple words: never tire."

Rubio was critical of Demings during an appearance on Fox News this week.

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"None of them will admit to being a socialist, Rubio said. "She probably won't but she certainly has voted for socialist things.

"How can you vote with Nancy Pelosi 100% of the time and argue that you're not a far-left, liberal extremist?"

Rubio has been criticized for lending constant support for Trump during his four years in the White House, even after Trump repeatedly criticized and slammed Rubio during the 2016 presidential campaign when they were both vying for the Republican nomination.

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