In Orlando, the race to decide who will be headed to Congress for one district has been a tale of high-profile endorsements and big money from national gun control groups.
Former Orlando police Chief Val Demings — the first woman ever to hold the position — beat out a tough field of opponents in the August Democratic primary for Florida’s newly redrawn 10th U.S. Congressional district. Facing a lethargic challenge from Republican Thuy Lowe, who Demings has at times held a 30-point lead on in the polls, Demings has very strong endorsements from key figures in gun politics.
In the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub terror attack in Orlando, Demings addressed the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia while still in her primary run — alongside a nodding House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi — to speak to the topic of guns.
“You don’t need to be a police chief to know that our communities are less safe when criminals and suspected terrorists can walk into a gun shop or gun show and leave with a weapon,” Demings said, in the above video.
Just days after her appearance on the national stage, Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, who ran a filibuster in support of gun-control legislation as a result of the Pulse shooting, endorsed the would-be Florida lawmaker through his Fund to End Gun Violence.
“I need Val Demings by my side in Congress,” said Murphy. “What we need now is to elect a new Congress that reflects the will of the voters, and electing these candidates will help ensure we get closer to that goal.”
Former U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords’ group, Americans for Responsible Solutions, announced their backing of Demings in September and followed it up on the ground during a bus tour in Orlando where the Pulse shooting was a key talking point.
“I have long admired the work ARS and Congresswoman Giffords are doing in the fight for gun safety, and I think it sends a loud message to Congress that they are kicking their tour off here, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in the United States,” said Demings.
This week, President Obama vouched for Demings, saying she would work to “enact reforms to end the cycle of senseless gun violence in our country.”
When it comes to campaign finances, Demings has blown away her rival — who has raised just $25,695 — and amassed a $1.3 million bankroll.
A large portion of Demings’ cash comes in the form of contributions from two large national super PACs, Independence USA, who has spent $468,938, and Women Vote! who has contributed $56,751. Gun control advocate, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is the sole contributor to Independence USA and earlier this year made a significant donation, $1 million, to Women Vote!
Giffords’ group gave $2,800.
The National Rifle Association has graded Demings with an “F” rating, but has not endorsed her opponent.