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News

Val Demings’ mysterious disappearing act

Democratic hopeful for Orange County Mayor drops out of the race and leaves the party in a lurch

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JUST THE STATS

 

$240,000

Amount former Orange County mayoral candidate Val Demings had raised since announcing in January; $68,000 of that was from state Democratic party donations and in-kind staffing support

 

48 percent

Percentage of Orange County voters who would have supported Jacobs – compared to 33 percent supporting Demings – according to recent polling

 

$640,000

Amount current Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs has raised over the period of a year in order to defeat Demings

Demings down

It’s one thing when you avert your eyes from politics for a few days so that they might be better served by staring at the bottom of a vodka bottle (it happens sometimes, especially on birthdays) and somebody’s political poll comes out showing that minor blips are turning into tidal waves on the graph and, dammit, you’d better get your act together, candidate for municipal government, or there’s going to be editorial hell to pay. But it’s an entirely different, unexpected, bizarre thing when such temporary visual aversion and its eventual return to sober sightlines brings the news that a highly funded, well-known, even-had-a-chance candidate drops out completely from the race while you’re not looking, leaving not even a puff of smoke (or an apology letter to her donors, apparently).

Such was the case of former Orlando Police Chief, failed congressional candidate, and now magical disappearing act for Orange County Mayor Val Demings in the wake of our five-day birthday bender. In one fell swoop, Demings effectively killed Democratic chances of drafting someone to beat law-breaking Mayor Teresa Jacobs in her stead, because the petition deadline has already passed, and, let’s face it, there aren’t a lot of Democrats in Central Florida with padded pockets or the kind of name recognition it would take to overtake the pearl-clutching (alleged) moderate Jacobs. On May 20, Demings quietly curtsied and left the party, heading to Jacksonville to spend time with family, all with a big “no comment.” Though, as the Orlando Sentinel reported – and we independently confirmed – Demings did reach out to Organize Now director Stephanie Porta about half an hour before her final bow saying something to the effect of “it’s not the right time.” No, Val, it seriously isn’t the right time to drop out of a race and screw your party, even if we’re pretending that this is a nonpartisan county election. But we digress.

Demings’ reluctance to even dip her toes in the pool was obvious from the get-go. For the better part of last year, she flirted with the idea of maybe putting a leg in, but she was also considering higher ambitions, like another run for U.S. Congress – totally feasible, considering that she only lost to tea party Congressman Dan Webster, R-Winter Garden, by a hair in a conservative rural district.

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