Senator Marco Rubio is up for reelection in Florida this year, and he is likely to face stiff competition from his Democrat challenger, Congresswoman Val Demings, in November. Law and order has been a defining theme thus far in their campaigns. Already, the incumbent Rubio has scored a coup against Demings by securing the endorsements of several police unions and local sheriffs in the Sunshine State.
Losing these endorsements to Rubio is a major blow for the pro-law and order public safety platform that Demings is running on. Worst of all, she herself is a former chief of the Orlando Police Department. Her campaign notes, “As a former 27-year law enforcement officer, Chief Val Demings is a no-nonsense, tough-on-crime leader who knows how to keep our communities safe. As Orlando Police Chief, Val Demings oversaw a 40% drop in violent crime.” But it is her record post-George Floyd that Rubio has successfully used against her thus far.
For the Rubio campaign it is not about what she had accomplished as a law enforcement officer, but what she didn’t do when the anti-police movement swept the country in 2020. One Rubio campaign rep made the following statement:
“Despite what Val Demings wants you to believe, she is no longer ‘the police,’ and that is crystal clear to Florida’s law enforcement community who watched her remain silent while her fellow Democrats in Congress called for defunding the police in 2020 as violent riots raged.”
Beyond what she didn’t say to combat this movement while her party embraced it two years ago, are comments Demings made when the Minneapolis City Council began its attempt to dismantle and reimagine its police force. Demings called the ambitions of the council “thoughtful,” a statement which likely cost her much of the law enforcement support she is trying to court now.
One such organization which has gotten behind Rubio is the Florida Fraternal Order of Police. The president of this union, Steve Zona, cites her “thoughtful” remark as the precise reason the fraternal order chose to endorse Rubio.
“In 2020, when Minneapolis had the plan to defund their police department, Val Demings called that ‘thoughtful,’ and that’s very disturbing,” he said.
And the Florida Phoenix reports that Rubio has earned the support of other important law enforcement organizations in the state, representing thousands of officers:
Rubio also has received backing from the Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA), with more than a thousand members, as well as the Florida Police Benevolent Association, consisting of more than 30,000 members, according to a press release in June.
So far, Demings has attempted to take on the mantle of law and order, an issue which has brought success to Republicans in recent elections due to the disastrous consequences on the Democratic Party’s anti-police initiatives. However, it has been Rubio who has benefited from the support of Florida’s law enforcement as he attempts to capitalize on the failures of the current majority party.
Image Credit: Photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)