Democrat Val Demings, who campaigned heavily on her status as a former police chief but failed to attract law enforcement endorsements, lost to Sen. Marco Rubio (R.) in Florida's Senate race.
Rubio led Demings by 12 points with 74 percent of the vote reported just past 8 p.m. Tuesday night when major networks called the race. Rubio even led historically blue Miami-Dade County by 7 points—he lost the county by 11 points in 2016, marking a whopping 18-point swing in just six years.
Demings, a former Orlando police chief, largely centered her pitch to voters on her law enforcement background in an attempt to brush aside Republicans' "soft on crime" attacks. During an August 17 interview, for example, Demings argued she's immune to criticism on crime because she is "the police," and former president Barack Obama emphasized her "27 years in law enforcement" in a digital ad he filmed for the Florida Democrat in the race's closing days.
Demings's status as a former cop, however, failed to impress the overwhelming majority of Florida's law enforcement community. Fifty-six of the state's 66 sheriffs backed Rubio, as did the state's Fraternal Order of Police and Police Benevolent Association. Many of those sheriffs accused Demings of turning on them during her three-term tenure as a congresswoman, citing in part the Democrat's June 2020 support for the far-left Minneapolis City Council as it worked to "abolish the Minneapolis Police system as we know it."
Demings responded by attacking the sheriffs who endorsed Rubio, accusing them in August of "playing political games." Months later, in October, the Democrat asserted that it's harder to be a politician than a police officer, a remark that prompted a fresh wave of criticism from Florida cops.
"For congresswoman Demings to say that sitting around in Washington and voting with [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi 100 percent of the time is a harder job than what we do every day is just despicable," Marion County sheriff Billy Woods told the Washington Free Beacon at the time. "It proves once and for all that she's completely abandoned the law enforcement community and turned into a creature of the swamp."
Rubio joined the Senate in 2011 and will be sworn in for his third term in January.