A Senate Race That Shouldn’t Be Close But Is - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Senate Race That Shouldn’t Be Close But Is
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Rep. Val Demings, Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Florida this year (The Democrats/YouTube)

If the Republican Party is to have a chance this November to win a majority in the Senate, thereby throwing a spanner in the spokes of the radical Left agenda coming from whoever’s in charge at 1600 (we know the dummy’s name, but not that of the ventriloquist), it’s critical that Marco Rubio’s Senate seat not go to the Democrats. Hardly anyone thought this race would be competitive. Right now, it is. It shouldn’t be.

In almost 12 years in the Senate, Marco Rubio has compiled a consistently conservative voting record and has been vocal and articulate on the issues that matter. He’s specifically called out the Biden administration and Democrats generally for the policies that have led to ruinous inflation, an unchecked invasion through what used to be our southern border, suicidal energy policies, and spiking violent crime abetted by soft-on-crime Democrat non-prosecutors. All the things that a majority of Americans say they oppose and that have put America on the wrong track.

The differences between these two candidates could not be clearer. They go to the very heart of our current divide over what government should be and what kind of country America is and should be.

Val Demings, who has represented an Orlando congressional district for six years and is Rubio’s November opponent, also has a record. In stark contrast to the conservative Rubio, Deming’s record is one of an off-the-rack progressive. She’s been a consistent supporter of the things most Floridians say they don’t like and would like to put an end to. Those who like Joe Biden’s policies will love Val Demings because she’s supported all of them.

So how come polls consistently show Rubio with a lead within the margin of error? One in August even showed Demings ahead by four points. This is an outlier, with most others showing Rubio ahead by two or three points. A recent poll with a large and well-constructed sample shows Rubio ahead with 49 percent support compared to Demings’ 47 percent. FiveThirtyEight shows Rubio up by 3.9 percent.

OK, OK, I’m anticipating the objections out there. Know that I know the shortcomings of political polls these days. They’ve not had an enviable record of matching their results with the certified vote of late. Many have a history of underrepresenting Republicans. But even firms with a solid record of accuracy are finding this race closer than it should be. They’re all coming up with similar numbers. So what gives? Are Florida voters just not paying attention?

Part of the answer is that Demings is not yet well known. Rubio’s campaign, handicapped by far less cash than Demings has hauled in, much of it from out-of-state donors, has yet to define her. There’s a lot Florida voters need to know about her. Here’s just some of it:

Demings has a 100 percent voting score from NARAL Pro-Choice America and Planned Parenthood. She has a 100 percent rating from the American Civil Liberties Union. She scored a 97 percent lifetime score with the League of Conservation Voters. She’s a supporter of gun control and carries an “F” rating from the National Rifle Association. She’s said she supports eliminating the filibuster in the Senate. She also supports Biden’s student loan forgiveness hustle. She’s been mum on the crisis at what used to be our southern border other than voicing support for Title 42, which at least slowed the flow of foreign nationals into the U.S. a bit. She voted for the almost criminally misnamed Inflation Reduction Act and is comfortable with incontinent government spending.

Demings is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Of course, she’s played the voter suppression card, alleging that Florida has engaged in “unprecedented efforts to deny eligible voters access to the ballot box.” And, of course, she’s suggested this is racially as well as politically motivated by you know whom. This is an utterly cynical and baseless charge that is inconvenienced by the fact that black voter turnout in Florida in recent election cycles has been just as high, or even higher, than white turnout. In January of this year, Demings, along with other Democrats in Florida’s congressional delegation, signed a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland calling on him to conduct “a complete and thorough investigation by the Department of Justice to identify and stop any other patterns of voter suppression.” How exactly requiring otherwise eligible voters to identify themselves, register to vote on time, and show up at the correct polling place suppresses anyone, she doesn’t say.

Demings voted for the two articles of impeachment of Donald Trump in 2019 and the single article in January of 2021. In 2019, she was one of the House’s seven impeachment managers who presented that body’s case in the Senate trial.

Many Florida voters support all or many of the things Demings has voted for and whooped up in her congressional career. But it’s clear that a majority reject almost all of these. The Rubio campaign has less than two months to make clear what Demings stands for. Otherwise, a majority of Florida voters might come down with an acute case of buyer’s remorse next year, finding themselves misrepresented in the Senate by a true-believing progressive.

We shouldn’t leave the subject of Val Demings without commenting on her long career as an Orlando police officer and then chief of the Orlando Police Department. After college and a short stint as a social worker, she took her first job as a cop with the Orlando Police Department in 1983. She was made chief in 2007 and retired in 2011. Aware of Floridians’ sensitivity to rising crime, the Demings campaign likes to emphasize her police background, often referring to her as “The Chief.” But many of those in her previous vocation are not that impressed with how she and her party have handled police and crime issues. The Florida Police Benevolent Association, a union representing more than 30,000 law enforcement officers, the Florida Police Chiefs Association, and 55 of Florida’s 67 county sheriffs have endorsed Rubio.

By contrast, Rubio, on the basis of his voting record and effective advocacy, gets high marks from the conservative rating organizations, including an “A+” rating from the NRA. He scores 100 percent with Americans for Prosperity, the National Federation of Independent Business, the National Right to Life Committee, the National Taxpayers Union, and the American Conservative Union.

Rubio supports ending profligate spending and balancing the federal budget. For necessary federal spending, he prioritizes national defense, which is the first and most important function of the federal government. He’s supported the policies that kept our southern border relatively secure until the current administration threw open the gates. He believes the Second Amendment means what it says and has voted against futile gun control legislation. He doesn’t believe climate change is an “existential threat” (as Democrats like to style it) to the planet. He supports protecting religious freedom and parents’ rights.

The differences between these two candidates could not be clearer. They go to the very heart of our current divide over what government should be and what kind of country America is and should be. The more these differences are seen and understood by voters, the bleaker are Val Demings’ prospects in a state that has a quarter million more registered Republicans than Democrats, and almost four million independents who, as a group, don’t lean nearly as far to the left as Val Demings does.

Larry Thornberry
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Larry Thornberry is a writer in Tampa.
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