WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Representative Val Demings, a Florida Democrat who gained national prominence as one of the House managers in President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, launched a campaign on Wednesday to run for Republican Marco Rubio’s U.S. Senate seat next year.
Demings, who previously served as Orlando’s first female police chief, has represented Florida’s 10th Congressional District, which includes parts of Orlando, in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2017.
As one of the House’s impeachment managers in Trump’s first impeachment, Demings argued before the Senate that the Republican president had illegally pressured Ukraine to announce investigations into Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Trump was impeached by the House but acquitted by the Senate in early 2020.
Demings, 64, was on the short list of candidates to be Joe Biden’s running mate in his successful 2020 run for president.
In her three-minute video announcing her campaign, Demings said growing up “poor, Black and female” inspired her career as a public servant working for change, first by fighting crime in the Orlando police department and then by serving in Congress.
“Unlike some in Washington, I never tire of standing up for what I believe is right,” Demings said in the video, which featured images of Rubio shaking hands with former Republican President Donald Trump. “I’m running for the United States Senate because of two simple words: ‘Never Tire.'”
Rubio, 50, is seeking his third six-year term in the Senate. He ran for president in 2016 and faltered despite a strong start as an establishment candidate. He was critical of Trump at the time, but later threw his support behind the president.
Rubio attacked Demings’ voting record and described her as a leftist extremist in a video statement posted to Twitter on Wednesday after she announced her campaign.
“In the weeks ahead, the voters of Florida are going to be reminded of my record of significant and commonsense achievements, and they’re also going to learn more about how ineffective and far-left and extremist the real Val Demings is when she’s in Washington,” Rubio said.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter; editing by Jonathan Oatis)