Orlando State Sen. Geraldine Thompson announced her intentions of running for Congress in the newly drawn Florida 10th Congressional District on Tuesday, setting up a high-drama Democratic primary with former Orlando Police Chief Val Demings.
Under newly proposed maps, both candidates have a good chance of defeating incumbent Daniel Webster. Demings lost to Webster in 2012, becoming one of the few Democrats to lose in Central Florida despite higher turnout for the Obama for America campaign.
Demings spoke to Florida Politics at the monthly meeting of the Orange County Democratic Executive Committee on Monday night, saying she’ll be ready to go, once the new congressional districts are finally settled.
“I’m going to let the state do it’s job and them I’m going to go for it,” she said. “I’m the stronger candidate and I’m the better candidate.”
Thompson has previously cited her experience working in the Legislature as make her the choice for 10th District voters.
Early on, most of the Democrats Florida Politics spoke with Monday night prefer Thompson.
While they like Demings and appreciate her fire on the stump, her short-lived 2014 mayoral campaign troubled many Orange Dems. Her abrupt exit left no time for the party to field a candidate to challenge incumbent Teresa Jacobs, who later won re-election with no opposition. Members preferred the stability Thompson could offer, with her longer legislative track record and a successful campaign history.
Then there is money.
Demings has ties with the DCCC, which funneled millions into her 2012 bid. Thompson said she’s spoken to Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant about a possible run. The party also intervened in Thompson’s 2014 State Senate Primary with Gary Siplin, by sending out a couple of rounds of mail attacking the controversial, fedora-clad lawmaker.
Party leaders could ultimately play a big part in who runs.
Like the already-intense primary affair in Florida’s 9th Congressional District to replace Alan Grayson, which also features a couple of party favorites, Central Florida Democrats could potentially have to deal with a second fight to try to balance partisan scales in the region.