By Quentin Choy
May 19, 2021
U.S. Representative Val Demings will challenge Florida Senator Marco Rubio for his Senate seat in 2022. Demings was Orlando’s first Black woman police chief and was on the shortlist to be Joe Biden’s Vice President along with Susan Rice, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Tammy Duckworth, Amy Klobuchar, and Kamala Harris, who ended being selected by Biden.
As police chief of Orlando, Demings faced an instance of controversy in which officer Travis Lamont broke Daniel Daley, an 84-year-old World War II veteran’s neck as he became upset over his car being towed. In a statement from Demings, she said “after review of the defensive tactic form by the training staff and Officer [Travis] Lamont’s chain of command, it appears the officer performed the technique within department guidelines.”
In a criticism of Demings record as police chief, Jeffrey Billman of Orlando Weekly slammed Demings role in the Orlando Police Department, which Billman calls the fourth-deadliest department in the country according to Mapping Police Violence.
“Demings was not a transformative police chief. But she never tried to be. Until her political ambitions demanded otherwise, she hewed to the thin-blue-line line that cops are good people with hard jobs, so get off their backs.”Jeffrey Billman of Orlando Weekly on Val Demings
Demings was on Biden’s shortlist for the vice presidency due to her African-American background and her former career as a police chief. He believed that these two identities could unite the Democratic Party who was dealing with a racial reckoning and police brutality following the murder of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis.
I remember thinking that Val Demings would be the best future vice president should Joe Biden win the election. Susan Rice and Kamala Harris were already disliked by the Republican base. Amy Klobuchar was ineligible due to her role in the Floyd killing after she failed to charge Derek Chauvin in 2006 when she was prosecutor for Hennepin County. Tammy Duckworth and Michelle Lujan Grisham just weren’t right for the moment. An article from Vogue Magazine argued the same, saying:
“Demings may be one of those once-in-a-lifetime politicians, a gifted orator, a woman who is completely self-made, a racial pioneer. America has a racism problem. Joe Biden has an enthusiasm problem. Someone like Val Demings could conceivably begin to heal both.”Vogue Magazine
Vogue’s desription is a far cry from Jeffrey Billman’s description of Demings.
Since Demings was a fairly unknown representative until her role in the impeachments of Donald Trump, she would have been a counterargument to Donald Trump’s claims that he and his party were the only source of law and order.
Rubio is well-liked in Florida with a 48% approval rating according to Morning Consult. He is a well-known figure outside of Florida among both Democrats and Republicans, and his role among Cuban-American voters in Florida is formidable. While I believe Demings is one of the best candidates that the Democrats can put up against Rubio, I’m not sure what types of arguments she can and will put up against him. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
Image Courtesy of The New York Times