ORLANDO, Fla. – Four Democrats are vying to see who will take the party’s nomination and challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio in the November general election.
The Florida primary is Aug. 23 and Democratic voters will decide on several candidates.
The frontrunner is Rep. Val Demings, who should be well-known to voters in the Orlando area.
Challenging her are Ricardo De La Fuente, Brian Rush and William Sanchez.
Rubio is the senior senator from Florida and a Republican who was first elected to the Senate in 2010.
In addition to Rubio, in November the winning Democrat will also take on Dennis Misigoy from the Libertarian Party, Steven Grant and Tuan Nguyen, who are not affiliated with any political party, and four write-in candidates — Uloma Ekpete, Edward Gray, Howard Knepper and Moses Quiles. That race is open to all voters.
Take a look at the candidates for the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.
Ricardo De La Fuente
Ricardo De La Fuente is a business owner. This is not his first run for elected office; in recent years, De La Fuente has run for Congress in Texas, California and Florida. In fact, in 2020, he ran for Congress in all three states at the same time. He actually won the Democratic primary in Texas but lost to the incumbent.
Val Demings is a U.S. congresswoman, representing U.S. House District 10, which included much of west Orange County. She’s been in the seat since 2016. Before that, Demings was chief of the Orlando Police Dept., the first woman to take the job. She was appointed chief in 2007 and was with the department for 27 years.
In the U.S. House, Demings has supported the Democratic agenda the majority of the time, with a strong focus on public safety. She’s supported funding for police, but also voted for the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which called for police reform. She’s also advocated for more gun control legislation. She’s served on the House committees on homeland security, judiciary and the permanent select committee on intelligence.
Demings came to prominence when she served as an impeachment manager for the first impeachment trial of President Trump. She was also on the shortlist to be future president Joe Biden’s running mate. He eventually picked Kamala Harris.
Brian Rush is an attorney from St. Petersburg. He served in the Florida House of Representatives in the 1990s as a Democrat, where he sponsored the original class size reduction act. He also focused on environmental protection and First Amendment rights.
Rush is running for U.S. Senate now with a focus on fiscal responsibility, public education, better immigration policies, closing tax loopholes and investing in clean energy. He also wants to strengthen the nation’s safety net programs, as well as social security and Medicare.
William Sanchez is an attorney living in Miami. He served under President George W. Bush as a special counsel for the Dept. of Justice working on unfair employment practices. Before that he worked in immigration law, helping refugees trying to get into the U.S.
Sanchez supports progressive causes, including the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, a federal $15 minimum wage and police reform, among other issues.