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Democratic Senate nominee Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., skipped a political event she had promoted hours earlier with a state representative who supports policies similar to the defund the police movement.
Demings, who is running against Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., for the Senate seat, touted the Defending Choice Volunteer Launch event — a phone bank drive to urge Democrats to take part in Orlando County, Florida, political events — which was scheduled for Thursday.
A poster for the event highlighted Demings presence as well as state Rep. Anna Eskamani, who represents Orlando in the state legislature. “Come make calls or knock on doors with [Eskamani] and me at our Defending Choice Volunteer Launch,” Demings said in the tweet.
Rubio’s Senate campaign called attention to Demings’ scheduled appearance with a politician who has called for defunding the police while trying to campaign on being pro-law enforcement.
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“While Val Demings tries to convince Floridians not to believe their own eyes, she is spending her day with Florida’s Defund the Police, Green New Deal champion,” Rubio’s campaign tweeted just prior to the scheduled event.
It’s unclear why Demings didn’t show up to the event. Demings’ campaign and Eskamani did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment.
“While Val Demings spends millions of dollars on ads trying to convince Floridians not to believe their own eyes, she’s campaigning with Florida’s own Defund the Police champion. Florida law enforcement know Marco Rubio is the only candidate they can count on to stand up for their interests in Washington,” Elizabeth Gregory, communications director for Marco Rubio for Senate, told Fox News Digital.
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Eskamani, who at the event called Rubio a “slimy piece of sh–,” did not mention police at the event, according to audio obtained by Fox News Digital, but spoke about the importance of campaigning Demings ahead of the November midterm election to protect abortion access in Florida. After speaking for about seven minutes, Eskamani appeared to expect Demings to arrive and took questions for another several minutes, according to the audio.
Demings is the former police chief of Orlando, a fact that has made her attractive to national Democrats hoping to avoid association with the defund the police movement. Demings’s past plays the role of “insulating Democrats from GOP charges that they are soft on crime or hold extreme progressive ideologies,” according to a Vanity Fair profile on Demings published last week.
Rubio’s team, however, has sought to use Demings’ past statements on policing, as well as law enforcement figures opposed to her stance, against her. Demings called the Minneapolis City Council’s push to dismantle and rebuild the police force “very thoughtful” in an interview with CBS This Morning on June 8, 2020, weeks after the murder of George Floyd by a police officer.
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Eskamani called for “demilitarization” the Orlando police department — where Demings had served as police chief from 2007 until 2011 — and proposed the city “divest in law enforcement, invest in community programs” in a 2020 campaign statement.
Demings released an ad in June where she promises that in the Senate she would “protect Florida from bad ideas like defending the police.”