TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Democrats are already navigating the fallout from Rep. Val Demings’ likely run for Senate, with former Orlando-area state attorney Aramis Ayala signaling she may run for a House seat instead of Senate in 2022.
“I’ve had some very productive discussions with leaders in our community, around the state, and nationally about the best way to serve,” she said in a Wednesday statement. “There will be a strong need for a progressive champion who can build on the work Congresswoman Demings has done in Congress and advocate for Florida’s 10th District.”
Demings had long been seen as leaning towards a bid for governor but upended those expectations earlier this week when she indicated she would instead challenge Republican Sen. Marco Rubio. Demings could make an official announcement as early as next month.
Demings, a three-term congresswoman and former Orlando police chief who served as a manager during the impeachment of former President Donald Trump, is seen as a top-tier candidate for Florida Democrats and her announcement is already clearing the field of significant challengers.
Ayala did not explicitly say what her future holds, but strongly suggested she will run to replace Demings in a congressional seat that covers three counties in central Florida, including the western half of Orlando.
Ayala, a Black Democrat, served one term as that region’s state attorney. She won the seat in 2016 by knocking off an incumbent with the help of billionaire George Soros, who included Ayala on a slate of progressive prosecutors he backed across the country during that election cycle.
She first gained widespread attention when she said she would stop pursuing the death penalty in criminal cases, a move that drew the ire of then-Gov. Rick Scott, who reassigned death penalty cases from her office to another prosecutor. She fought the move, but the Florida Supreme Court sided with Scott. Shortly after, Ayala decided she would not seek a second term.
Neither have spoken publicly about how Demings is influencing their decision making process.
Read more: politico.com