One of the nation's leading gun-control groups on Monday entered Florida's highly contested Senate race, endorsing Democratic congresswoman Val Demings over Republican incumbent Marco Rubio.
During a Monday morning press conference, Demings called it "an honor" to land support from Giffords PAC, a prominent gun-control advocacy group that in 2020 spent $11 million to help elect Democrats. Giffords senior adviser and former Florida congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D.) joined Demings at the event, where she called Rubio a "spineless senator" who should "take heed" of the group's endorsement.
Giffords's decision to back Demings comes months after the Democrat voted in March to tighten gun sales through the Enhanced Background Checks Act of 2021. While Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) promised to quickly hold a vote on the bill at the time, the bill has since stalled in the upper chamber as support for additional gun sale restrictions plummets. According to a November Quinnipiac poll, 47 percent of registered voters want stricter gun laws, marking a nearly 20-point drop in support since February 2018.
Demings has long championed stricter gun laws, boasting in May 2020 that she is "proud" of the "F" rating she received from the National Rifle Association. Top staffers in the Democrat's office have also attacked the right to self-defense. After a Wisconsin jury determined that Kyle Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he shot three men during a night of rioting last summer, Demings communications director Daniel Gleick fired off a now-deleted tweet that suggested Republicans believe "they should be able to kill you if they want to."
Florida GOP executive director Helen Aguirre Ferré said Gleick's tweet "exemplifies all that is wrong with those who attack our constitutional rights."
"The right to self-defense is under assault by the extreme left in our country," Aguirre Ferré told the Washington Free Beacon. Demings "can't hide the contempt she and her team repeatedly demonstrate for hard-working Americans who support the rule of law."
Gleick did not return a request for comment on why he deleted his tweet.
Demings spent much of her Monday appearance with Giffords PAC touting her history as a police chief in Orlando. In June 2020, however, the Democrat praised the Minneapolis City Council for its "very thoughtful" plan to defund and dismantle the city's police department.
"I do believe that everyone has a right to look at any proposal that is put forth because there desperately needs to be change," Demings said. "I also believe that the council is being very thoughtful in terms of looking at all of the services that police provide."