TALLAHASSEE — State Sen. Randolph Bracy, an Orlando Democrat who pushed to revamp Florida’s criminal justice laws while in the Legislature, will run for the central Florida congressional seat now held by Rep. Val Demings.

Bracy’s move represents yet another ripple effect caused by Demings decision to challenge U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in 2022.

The 44-year-old Bracy becomes the first to publicly announce his intention to run for Demings seat, although former local prosecutor Aramis Ayala strongly hinted last week that she too would run for the 10th Congressional District seat. Brady has an advantage since his Orange County state Senate seat makes up 80 percent of the congressional district.

“I’ve been serving this community for almost 10 years now as an elected representative and senator,” said Bracy. “I have a passion for this community.”

Bracy in late March hinted that he might run for governor, teasing a candidacy with a video where he said that Florida needed a governor who would work with Republicans and Democrats to deal with the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. In that video Bracy advocated investing in broadband technology and building health centers and “leave behind the small fights at the Capitol.”

But Bracy — who has focused on racial justice issues, including getting the state to instruct students on the Ocoee Election Day massacre of 2020 — said he needs to take his message to Congress.

“The real fight is in Washington,” said Bracy.

Bracy also pointed out that he was able to push bills dealing with racial justice in a Republican-controlled Legislature. He also was chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee for two years.

“I think that experience is important in a divided Congress,” Bracy said.

Demings, a former Orlando police chief, was first elected to Congress in 2016. She has risen in national stature due to his role as one of the managers of former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment. Demings also was on the short list of potential running mates for President Joe Biden. She had been considering a run for either governor or U.S. senator, but recently made it clear she will challenge Rubio.

Demings decision to run against Rubio prompted fellow Rep. Stephanie Murphy to announce this week she will run for reelection instead of challenging the two-term incumbent in a Senate primary.

Democrats currently only hold a slim eight-seat majority in the U.S. House, though the 10th Congressional District is seen as safe Democratic seat. Biden won the district by nearly 62 percent over Trump in the November election. Florida’s GOP-controlled Legislature will draw new congressional maps in early 2022, but making large-scale changes to a seat that is home to a sizable Black minority — and a majority of district voters — could spark a federal legal challenge.

Bracy joins several other Florida legislators who are mounting bids for Congress — a number that could grow now that Florida has picked up another congressional seat due to reapportionment. Two state senators and one House member have already begun campaigning for the special election to pick a replacement for Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died earlier this year after a long battle with cancer.

GOP state Rep. Anthony Sabatini has filed to run against incumbent U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster although Sabatini has suggested he will run for a new central Florida seat if lawmakers create it.

Read more: politico.com

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