Marco Rubio’s days as Florida’s senior United States Senator could be numbered.
Democrats have enlisted Congresswoman Val Demings to retire Rubio, famously branded “Little Marco” by ex-president Donald Trump.
It’s the top of the 2022 ticket and a race Democrats feel carries the strongest chance of earning an elusive statewide victory. Demings, former Orlando Police Chief, has raised more than $47 million, the third most of any Senate campaign.
“Val Demings will beat Marco Rubio to be our next U.S. Senator,” said Stephen Gaskill, president of the Florida LGBTQ Democratic Caucus. “She is running a statewide grassroots campaign focused on reaching out to everyone in Florida, unlike Rubio, who stays in comfortable MAGA echo chambers. She has outraised him in every quarter and best represents the changing and dynamic demographics of Florida.”
A Florida native, Demings, 65, was first elected to Congress in 2016. She represents Congressional District 10, an Orlando area seat that includes the Walt Disney World theme parks and resorts.
“I’m running for the United States Senate because of two simple words: Never Tire,” Demings said in a campaign video that includes photographs and video of her childhood growing up in Jacksonville and tenure at the Orlando PD.
The video also portrays Rubio as a lazy politician with “tired talking points and backward solutions.”
“Voters know Rubio is uninterested in his Senate position and is only holding on to run for President again,” Gaskill said. “He has no track record in the Senate and barely even shows up to work. Chief Demings will lead a strong Democratic ticket in November.”
Rubio has never been an ally to the LGBT community. He recently said voting to codify same-sex marriage in the Senate was a “stupid waste of time.” Speaking to clergy at a campaign event in Davie, Rubio said mainstream Christianity teaches “the only relations that God recognizes and tolerates as not sinful are a husband and a wife.”
“Nowhere in scripture does it speak to that,” said Rev. Tony Viglione of Church of Our Savior MCC in Boynton Beach. “I have yet to find any scripture – Old or New – to support any law against love.”
Viglione said Rubio is deploying a thinly-veiled strategy of drumming up support among older, white evangelical voters as the election nears.
“I understand what he’s doing,” Viglione said. “He’s speaking to his class of citizenry – middle-aged white men. He’s talking in evangelical terms. My God is and always will be a God of love. No one person or religious body can claim with authority to know the heart of God and then dismiss God’s love and acceptance of God’s children as equal.”
Demings wasted no time in condemning Rubio’s remarks.
“Shame on Marco Rubio for attacking our LGBTQ community,” Demings tweeted. “In the Senate, I will continue fighting to protect freedoms for ALL Floridians.”
In July, Demings voted for the Respect For Marriage Act, a piece of legislation intended to safeguard the right of same-sex and interracial couples to marry in the event the Supreme Court were to overturn such rights as it did with abortion.
“I voted to protect marriage equality,” Demings tweeted. “There are some politicians who are trying to tear down this basic freedom – even interracial marriage. That’s shocking, that’s extreme. I’m fighting to protect marriage equality.”
Fun Fact: The Senate is the upper chamber of Congress with each state allotted two seats. Senators are elected to six-year terms. Presently, there are 50 Republicans, 48 Democrats and two Independents. Both of Florida’s Senators – Rubio and Rick Scott – are Republicans.