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Florida's primary elections take place Tuesday, but by listening to Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., one might think it was already general election season.
Demings is running for Senate, facing off against former Florida House member Brian Rush, former immigration lawyer and Justice Department Special Counsel William Sanchez, and Ricardo De La Fuente in the Democratic race, but her sights are firmly set on incumbent Republican Sen. Marco Rubio.
“My opponent believes in abortion bans with no exceptions, even in the case of rape, incest and sexual abuse. That’s why Marco Rubio needs to go,” Demings tweeted the night before the primary. “It’s time.”
Throughout her campaign, Demings has looked ahead to November and a matchup with Rubio, who will automatically be running in the general election because the GOP primary was canceled.
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Rubio also is assuming he will face Demings, and addressed his presumed opponent on Fox News Tuesday morning.
“I’m excited about this race. Elections are their best when it’s like a clear choice between two candidates, and the choice couldn’t be clearer,” Rubio said. “Val Demings is the hand-picked candidate of Pelosi and Schumer, she votes with Pelosi 100% of the time. Every time. She’s been in Congress now for six years, has never gotten anything important done. Nothing. She’s actually never passed a bill, I don’t believe.”
Rubio contrasted this with his own record of passing bills, including under Democratic leadership.
“I’m the one who passed the burn pit legislation, I’m the one that passed the reforms to the VA, I’m the one that passed the child tax credit, I’m the one that created and passed the Paycheck Protection Program,” he said.
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Demings, meanwhile, has been out-fundraising and out-spending Rubio in what is shaping up to be a very close race.
Both candidates have been trying to paint the other as politicized figures who do not care about the average Florida voter. Demings earlier this month tweeted that Rubio is a “career politician and a weak leader.
Meanwhile, Rubio has labeled Demings as trying to be a “darling of the left” — a left-winger he described in a Tuesday opinion piece for The Federalist as “swiftly losing all touch with reality.”
Demings has also been trying to take a weapon away from Republicans when it comes to law enforcement. While the GOP is typically viewed more favorably by those who staunchly support police, Demings has touted her background as the first female chief of the Orlando Police Department.
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Rubio, however, claims that Demings “turned her back on the police officers” when she joined Congress. The Republican noted that despite Demings' history in law enforcement, he has received endorsements from 57 out of the state's 66 elected sheriffs, the Florida Police Benevolent Association, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
If Demings makes it past Tuesday's primary as she and Rubio both expect, the battle between the two will continue to heat up. With the Senate currently split 50-50 and Republicans hoping to retake control, the Florida race could prove pivotal in determining the balance of power in Washington.
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