Demings, a former Orlando police chief and the first woman to hold the title, was a House manager in former President Donald Trump’s Senate impeachment trial, and she has been an important voice in seeking accountability for his embarrassing response to the coronavirus pandemic. Rubio voted to protect Trump in the face of his second impeachment trial for inciting a riot at the U.S. Capitol in January. A month earlier, the Florida Republican helped himself to a COVID-19 vaccination in short supply in his state at the time.
He responded to Demings’ campaign announcement with the predictable arrogance and insults of a Florida Republican. “Look, I’ve always known that my opponent for the Senate was gonna be a far-left, liberal Democrat. Today, we just found out which one of them Chuck Schumer’s picked,” Rubio said in a video shared Wednesday on Twitter. “I’m looking forward to this campaign because it’s going to offer the people of Florida a very clear difference.”
Rubio went on to call Demings a “do nothing House member with not a single significant legislative achievement in her time in Congress.” “By comparison one nonpartisan group ranked me the most effective Republican in the entire Senate,” Rubio said. He is referring to a ranking released by the Center for Effective Lawmaking in March that based his ranking on “107 bills he put forward, ten of which passed the Senate, and six of which became law” under the 116th Congress. Let’s not forget, the senator had a majority-Republican Senate working in his favor.
Federal voting rights legislation top of Democrats’ agenda is being held up in the Senate by a filibuster requiring 60 votes instead of a simple majority for a vote on proposed legislation. The filibuster has been used as a partisan weapon for decades,” Demings told the Orlando Sentinel. “We were not elected to be obstructionists. … We were elected to get things done. And when we talk about protecting some of the most basic rights in this country, the filibuster blocks those things, and we need to get rid of it.”
But beyond the filibuster, the more important question with regards to Rubio’s legislative record boasted as effective is: Does an effective Republican equate to what’s best for most Floridians? The answer to that is a clear no.
In Florida, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law legislation on “disruptive protests” that could put protesters in jail for up to 15 years if police determine at least nine people took part in a riot. “Under this bill, peaceful protesters could be arrested and charged with a third-degree felony for ‘committing a riot’ even if they did not engage in any disorderly and violent conduct,” the ACLU of Florida said in a news release. “It would also prohibit local governments from determining how to allocate funding for police reform to address critical needs in their local communities and seek to protect counter-protesters from civil liability if they injure or kill a protester.”
State legislators also passed a bill requiring voters to submit requests each election cycle to vote by mail.”It would require voters to submit vote-by-mail requests each election cycle, restrict secure vote-by-mail drop boxes, and demand sensitive personal information from voters requesting a mail ballot,” the ACLU of Florida wrote in a news release. “Like the law recently passed in Georgia, this bill also criminalizes people who provide food or water to Floridians waiting in line to vote.”
Rubio has done nothing to enact the kind of federal legislation that would combat state-level voter suppression or anti-protest measures. “Marco Rubio voted against stimulus checks, he voted against COVID relief for our schools and our small businesses,” Demings said in the Orlando Sentinel. “And he voted against helping those on the frontlines, our first responders or teachers, our health care workers.”