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Val Demings fell short in her challenge to Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in Florida, Decision Desk HQ projects.
Demings faced an uphill battle in challenging a Republican incumbent. The president’s party typically loses seats in a midterm election. Florida is also regarded as a key battleground state that has become more Republican in recent years and a site for controversial restrictions on discussions of race and LGBTQ+ issues in schools.
Demings had to contend with the challenges Black women face being elected to statewide positions. The country has never had a Black woman governor, and only two Black women have ever served in the U.S. Senate.
“Black women politicians have to walk a fine line,” said Nadia Brown, professor of government, chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Georgetown University. “They have to monitor themselves in ways that other groups don’t because of stereotypes. They are seen as too aggressive or emasculating or as someone others don’t want to have a beer with. That’s an extra challenge.”
There are currently no Black women in the Senate.
Demings is a former chief for the Orlando Police Department who has served Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House since 2017. She significantly outraised Rubio, amassing more than $72 million, 53 percent of which came from small individual donations less than $200.