The contrast ad is alive and well in the 2022 Senate race, with the former Republican ops at the Lincoln Project offering a straightforward spot.
“Val Demings fights criminals,” the commercial concludes. “Marco Rubio defends them.”
The 60-second “Crime,” reported first by Gary Fineout, makes a mockery of the second-term Republican’s law-and-order bona fides, painting U.S. Sen. Rubio as a lackey for the legally compromised Donald Trump.
Happily, for swing voters targeted in various suburban areas in Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa and Hialeah. The four cities collectively have a Democratic edge, with just over 475,000 registered Democrats and about 363,000 Republicans, according to the latest available data from L2. While those numbers don’t take into account demographic changes as you move from urban parts of a city to more suburban areas outside the urban core, the number of non-partisan voters tells a story. At nearly 307,000 voters, Demings has a lot of potentially undecided voters to capture in the four media markets.
“Marco Rubio wants you to think crime is a top issue in this election,” a male narrator intones, over shots of Rubio that quickly segue into familiar images of the former President’s legal travails.
“So why does he spend so much time defending Donald Trump, who is at the center of 19 pending criminal and civil cases from tax fraud to stealing classified documents to trying to violently overthrow an election? Rubio backs Trump, not law and order.”
“He attacks the FBI and law enforcement,” the narrator bemoans. “So much for backing the blue.”
Conversely, “Demings will be everything Marco Rubio isn’t: hardworking, smart, effective, brave and strong enough to speak out in the face of injustice.”
“Val’s record of service, bravery and putting her life on the line for a safer Florida has always come down to doing the right thing.”
“Marco Rubio is blowing the crime dog whistle in his culture war campaign. Voters won’t miss the irony of his slavish defense of Donald Trump, a man facing a raft of criminal charges,” said Rick Wilson, co-founder of the Lincoln Project.
“Marco can’t even condemn someone who instigated an insurrection and has 19 criminal and civil cases against him. The truth is there is only one crime fighter in this race and its Val Demings. She’s proven her toughness throughout her career and deserves the support of every Floridian.”
The law-and-order issue is among the most litigated ones in the Senate race between Rubio and Demings, with the Senator capitalizing on law enforcement endorsements despite Demings’ career in law enforcement.
Rubio has been endorsed by the Florida Fraternal Order of Police, the Police Benevolent Association, 55 Florida Sheriffs, and the Florida Police Chiefs Association.
Demings has run statewide TV ads highlighting her law enforcement career, and presumably, the Lincoln Project spot helps to reinforce that message to potentially persuadable voters.
Florida Politics reporter A.G. Gancarski authored this report.