Rep. Val Demings to challenge Marco Rubio for Florida Senate seat in 2022

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Rep. Val Demings will challenge Sen. Marco Rubio in his re-election fight next year, two sources confirm to The Post.

The Florida Democrat, who represents Orlando, has yet to publicly her candidacy, though a formal announcement is expected in the coming weeks, most likely sometime in June.

News of her run was first reported by Politico.

The 64-year-old lawmaker, who made history as Orlando’s first female chief of police, became a nationally known figure as one of House managers during President Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2020.

Her name re-entered the headlines last summer, when she was a finalist on then-candidate Biden’s VP shortlist.

At the time, Demings confirmed that she was being considered, but declined to comment beyond that.

The Florida Democrat spent the last few months deciding whether to challenge Rubio in the Senate or go up against Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is also up for re-election in 2022.

In addition to Demings, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, currently run by Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), were also urging Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) to consider a bid.

It is not clear if Murphy, the first Vietnamese American woman elected to Congress, will also pursue that race, though her interest was apparent during her recent listening tour across the state.

She conducted the tour over the last few weeks.

Demings ultimately opted to challenge Rubio over DeSantis, though both would be formidable competitors.

One likely factor that played a role in her decision was Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), who has already entered the race against DeSantis.

Entering that race alongside Crist, a former governor of the state, could have led to a contentious primary that divided Democrats further.

Once she officially enters the Senate primary, Demings will certainly be the most high profile name on the Democratic side.

“Val is an impressive and formidable candidate whose potential entrance would make the race against Rubio highly competitive,” one national Democrat with knowledge of the party’s strategy on Senate races told The Post of her run.

She is also part of a major political power couple in the swing state. Her husband, Jerry Demings, is the mayor of Orange County, located in a critical swing region of Florida.

For his part, Rubio, who lost to then-candidate Trump in the bitter 2016 GOP presidential primary, has maintained a positive relationship with the former commander-in-chief.

Trump beat Biden handily in Florida during the 2020 presidential race, carrying the Sunshine State 51.2 percent to 47.9 percent, respectively.

Rubio, whose recent approval ratings average just under 50 percent, will need Trump’s full backing — which he has — to carry him over the finish line.

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