Former Orlando Police Chief Launches a Bid for Congress

Orlando's first African-American female police chief, Val Demings says she wants to help find solutions for the tough issues facing her community.

Val Demings, the first African-American woman to serve as Orlando, Florida’s police chief, announced this week plans to run for the city’s 8th District congressional seat, now filled by freshman Republican Daniel Webster. She may first have to face off in a primary with the district’s former Rep. Alan Grayson (D), a victim of the voters’ Democratic fatigue during the 2010 midterm elections that gave House Republicans the majority. He also announced plans this week to attempt a return to Washington.


Demings, who served as Orlando police chief from December 2007 to May 2011, when she retired, said in an interview Thursday with, "We're dealing with some tough issues right now, and I want to be a part of developing solutions.” She also guaranteed that she would have the resources to run a competitive race. Demings has already won the support of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, who, the television station reports, “has access to people she will need to raise money.”


Orlando is in a state of transition and, like many cities around the nation, has experienced major population shifts. But instead of Blacks moving out, as has been the case in Chicago and Detroit, the city’s 2010 census shows that the state’s African-American population has surged by 250,000 people in the past 10 years, says David Bositis, senior research analyst at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The same is true of the area’s Latino population. These shifts could bolster Demings’s chances, because when Florida creates its new redistricting map, the 8th will likely become a majority-minority district. But it’s not yet clear whether it will be majority Black or majority Latino, since the state is still in the early stages of the redistricting process.

 (Photo: Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)

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