‘Together we can do anything’: Demings secures Democratic nomination to take on Rubio

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With more than 1 million votes cast so far Tuesday night in Florida’s primary election, US Rep. Val Demings has secured the Democratic nomination for the US Senate seat and will continue his campaign to unseat Republican Marco Rubio in November.

The Orlando Democrat and law enforcement veteran had received more than 85 percent of the vote earlier in the evening in the primary election, according to the Florida Division of Elections.

If elected as Florida’s next senator, Demings would reach an important milestone by becoming the second woman from Florida in the US Senate after some 40 years.

In Orlando, Demings held a primary election event on Tuesday night where he celebrated his victory and emphasized the importance of advancing public education, gun reform in the United States and guaranteeing “a woman’s right to choose.”

Demings also thanked her campaign staff and delivered an impassioned speech about getting from humble beginnings to becoming the Democratic nominee.

“I stand before you tonight as the Democratic candidate for the United States Senate,” Demings said. “I come before you tonight believing in the promise of America. We are not looking back, tonight we come looking forward.”

She said: “Together, I truly believe in this daughter of a maid and a janitor, who is not supposed to be here tonight, but I truly believe that together we can do anything. …And with her help, I will be elected as the next United States Senator to represent the great state, my home state of Florida. God bless you all.”

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A former Orlando police chief and officer, Demings was the only woman in the Democratic primary race among three men. She had managed to raise the most money for her campaign, according to campaign finance records from the Federal Election Commission.

The other Democratic candidates were William J. Sanchez, Brian Rush and Ricardo De La Fuente. Both Sánchez and Rush are attorneys, according to their respective campaign websites.

Demings had been in the spotlight for his numerous campaign ads criticizing Rubio on various issues, such as his losing roll call votes and his negative political views on women’s reproductive rights.

Demings had tweeted multiple times throughout the day of the primary election, thanking poll workers and encouraging Florida voters to cast their ballots. “Happy Election Day, Florida! We are making history today,” Demings said Tuesday afternoon via Twitter.

He added, “Our democracy is on the ballot, and Florida deserves a senator who will fight for their rights instead of staying home and bowing to special interests.”

Although Rubio has spent money on ads touting his support for law enforcement, Demings has a strong background in law enforcement.

According to her campaign website, Demings is a former social worker and served 27 years in various positions within law enforcement, including as a police officer in Orlando. In fact, she was the first female police chief in Orlando.

Demings will face a competitive battle against Rubio, who has managed to win the endorsement of at least 55 sheriffs statewide.

Rubio’s campaign issued a press release acknowledging Demings’ primary victory. However, the statement also criticized Demings and praised Rubio’s achievements.

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Rubio was unopposed in the primary. So now, Floridians know that Demings and Rubio will be the candidates running until the general election on November 8.