Florida Congresswoman Val Demings visits UM on U.S. Senate campaign trail

Students pose with Congresswoman Val Demings outside of Shalala Student Center on September 2, 2022. Photo Credit: Alex Terr
Students pose with Congresswoman and Senate candidate Val Demings outside of Shalala Student Center on September 2, 2022. Photo credit: Alex Terr

“Soon my generation will not be leading for much longer,” Demings said. “We need young, smart, energetic people to lead the way.”

Demings has long been a leader, becoming the first female Chief of Police in Orlando in 2007 after 23 years serving at every level of the police department. In 2016, she transitioned into U.S. federal politics, serving as Florida’s 10th District house representative.

Now, she has pivoted to the U.S. senate after attracting attention for her role in former president Trump’s impeachment trial.

Following a brief introduction, Demings asked every student at the event what their first priority for change was. The answers ranged from cyberbullying to affordable housing to environmental concerns.

“I never got the opportunity to speak to a politician face to face before,” junior political science, criminology and French major Danielle Metzger said. “It was incredible for such a high profile woman to listen one on one with us and hear all of our concerns.”

Congresswoman and Senate candidate Val Demings speaks with Danielle Metzger outside of Shalala Student Center on September 2, 2022.
Congresswoman and Senate candidate Val Demings speaks with Danielle Metzger outside of Shalala Student Center on September 2, 2022. Photo credit: Alex Terr

The conversation was hosted by the University of Miami College Democrats (UCD) as part of their involvement in the midterm elections. The organization has been working nonstop to make sure that students were able to meet with Demings today.

“It is so exciting to have Val on campus today,” Bridget Craig, UCD president and junior majoring in political science, criminology and geography said. “We worked tirelessly once we found out she was coming earlier this week.”

Demings, nicknamed “The Chief” after being the chief of the Orlando Police Department,is the Democratic nominee for the Florida Senate race against Republican incumbent Marco Rubio. While speaking to students, she made sure to differentiate herself from Rubio on many issues such as abortion and voting rights.

“Marco Rubio has a lot of damn nerve to talk about me,” Demings said when asked about her stance on abortion. “A woman or girl should have the right at an abortion up to the time of viability of the fetus.”

Demings made sure to stay as late as she could to hear every student’s concerns, remembering each student’s name and asking them directly what they want to see if she is elected. However, instead of saying if she is elected to the Senate, she changed her wording to when she was elected, exuding confidence.

If Demings does win, she would change the course of state politics in Florida as being the first Democrat senator since Bill Nelson in 2018 and the first Black U.S. senator for the state.

“I’m so glad that she was on campus telling us what she would do when she wins,” sophomore computer science major Daniel Guthart said. “It shows that she cares about her community and her constituents.”