Former State Prosecutor Ayala Seeking Demings' Seat Then-State Attorney Aramis Ayala speaks at a news conference Monday, Sept. 23, 2019, in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)
By Sandy Fitzgerald | Wednesday, 26 May 2021 09:36 AM
Former Florida state prosecutor Aramis Ayala has joined the Democrat primary race to replace Rep Val Demings, D-Fla., who is planning to challenge incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio next year.
Florida's 10th Congressional district is considered safe-Democrat, so whoever wins the primary will most likely head to Washington, D.C., reports Politico. State Sen. Randolph Bracy on Tuesday also announced he is seeking Demings' seat.
"All Floridians need a voice in Washington," Ayala said. "I have done progressive work. I came in as a prosecutor committed to challenging the status quo."
Ayala had gained statewide attention after battling then-Gov. Rick Scott over the death penalty. She first decided to stop seeking the death penalty in criminal cases and eventually fought Scott in a case reaching the state Supreme Court after he took death penalty cases from her office to give to other prosecutors. The court sided with Scott, and Alaya then decided not to seek a second term as state attorney in the 2020 election
She told Politico that she had originally examined running for the Senate but changed her mind when it was clear that Demings wanted to challenge Rubio.
Demings is a "fearless leader" and "unapologetic champion for women and people of color," Ayala commented.
Ayala had served one term as state attorney for Orange and Osceola counties, winning in 2016 by defeating an incumbent. Her support came from billionaire George Soros, who had added Ayala to a list of progressive prosecutors he backed that year.
Demings is a former Orlando chief of police and was first elected to Congress in 2016. She became nationally known as a manager during former President Donald Trump's impeachment and was part of President Joe Biden's shortlist of potential running mates.
The 10th Congressional District is in Orange County, and even though the state's GOP-controlled legislature is the draw up new congressional maps next year, making large-scale changes to a district where Black voters make up a majority of Democrats would likely bring a legal challenge on the federal level.