|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Florida's 10th district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2017
|Preceded by||Daniel Webster|
|Chief of the Orlando Police Department|
December 16, 2007 – June 1, 2011
|Preceded by||Michael McCoy|
|Succeeded by||Paul Rooney|
Valdez Venita Butler
March 12, 1957
Jacksonville, Florida, U.S.
|Residence||Orlando, Florida, U.S.|
|Department||Orlando Police Department|
Valdez Venita Demings (née Butler; born March 12, 1957) is an American politician serving as the U.S. representative from Florida's 10th congressional district since 2017. The district covers most of the western half of Orlando and includes much of the area around Orlando's resort parks. It includes many of Orlando's western suburbs, including Apopka and Winter Garden. From 2007 to 2011, she was chief of the Orlando Police Department, its first female chief, capping a 27-year career with the department. Demings also serves as first lady of Orange County, Florida since December 4, 2018, when her husband Jerry Demings was sworn in as mayor.
Demings was the Democratic nominee to represent Florida's 10th congressional district in Congress in both 2012 and 2016. After losing in 2012 to Republican incumbent Daniel Webster, she won in 2016 after the State Supreme Court mandated the creation of a new, majority-black district in Orlando.
On January 15, 2020, Speaker Nancy Pelosi selected Demings to serve as an impeachment manager in the first Senate trial of President Donald Trump. In early August 2020, Demings was said to be one of the top contenders to be Joe Biden's vice presidential running mate in the 2020 United States presidential election, along with Kamala Harris and Susan Rice. She is a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination in the 2022 United States Senate election in Florida.
Early life and education
Valdez Venita Butler was born on March 12, 1957, one of seven children born to a poor family; her father worked as a janitor, while her mother was a maid. They lived in Mandarin, a neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida. She attended segregated schools in the 1960s, graduating from Wolfson High School in the 1970s.
Demings became interested in a career in law enforcement after serving in the "school patrol" at Dupont Junior High School. She attended Florida State University, graduating with a degree in criminology in 1979.
In 1983, Demings applied for a job with the Orlando Police Department (OPD); her first assignment was on patrol on Orlando's west side. Demings was appointed as Chief of the Orlando Police Department in 2007, becoming the first woman to lead the department. From 2007 to 2011, Demings oversaw a 40% decrease in violent crime.
According to a 2015 article in The Atlantic, the Orlando Police Department "has a long record of excessive-force allegations, and a lack of transparency on the subject, dating back at least as far as Demings's time as chief." A 2008 Orlando Weekly exposé described the Orlando Police Department as "a place where rogue cops operate with impunity, and there's nothing anybody who finds himself at the wrong end of their short fuse can do about it." Demings responded with an op-ed in the Orlando Sentinel, arguing that "Looking for a negative story in a police department is like looking for a prayer at church" and added that "It won't take long to find one." In the same op-ed, she cast doubt on video evidence that conflicts with officers' statements in excessive force cases, writing, "a few seconds (even of video) rarely capture the entire set of circumstances."
In 2010, an Orlando police officer flipped 84-year-old Daniel Daley over his shoulder after the man became belligerent, throwing him to the ground and breaking a vertebra in his neck. Daley alleged excessive force and filed a lawsuit. The police department cleared the officer as "justified" in using a "hard take down" to arrest Daley, concluding he used the technique correctly even though he and the other officer made conflicting statements. Demings said "the officer performed the technique within department guidelines" but also said that her department had "begun the process of reviewing the use of force policy and will make appropriate modifications." A federal jury ruled in Daley's favor and awarded him $880,000 in damages.
U.S. House of Representatives
Demings was the Democratic Party nominee for the United States House of Representatives in Florida's 10th congressional district in the 2012 elections. She faced freshman Republican Daniel Webster in a district that had been made slightly more Republican than its predecessor in 2010. Demings narrowly lost, taking 48 percent of the vote to Webster's 51 percent.
Democrats attempted to recruit Demings to run against Webster again in 2014. She decided to run for Mayor of Orange County, Florida, against Teresa Jacobs, instead. Demings dropped out of the mayoral race on May 20, 2014.
In 2015, Demings announced her candidacy for the 10th district seat after a court-ordered redistricting made the 10th significantly more Democratic ahead of the 2016 elections. Webster concluded the new 10th was unwinnable, and ran for reelection in the nearby 11th district.
Demings won the Democratic Party nomination on August 30 and won the general election in November with 65% of the vote. She is the third Democrat to win this Orlando-based district since its creation in 1973 (it was numbered as the 5th from 1973 to 1993, the 8th from 1993 to 2013, and has been the 10th since 2013).
On May 21, 2020, Demings confirmed she was on "the shortlist" to be Joe Biden's vice presidential nominee for the 2020 presidential election. She said she would accept the role if offered. Some critics, including Black Lives Matter activists, attacked her record as Orlando police chief. Kamala Harris was officially announced as Biden's running mate on August 11, 2020. In November 2020, Demings was named a candidate for United States Secretary of Homeland Security in the Biden Administration.
- Committee on Homeland Security
- Committee on the Judiciary
- Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
2022 U.S. Senate candidacy
Demings received a 100% voting score from NARAL Pro-Choice America for 2017, 2018, and 2019. She received a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood Action Fund for 2020. She has an F rating from the anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List.
Demings has stated that she seeks to keep firearms out of the hands of "people who seek to do harm", saying that the gun control legislation that she supports "isn’t about taking guns away from responsible, law-abiding people." She supported the Gun Violence Restraining Order Act of 2017, which would have provided a lawful method of temporarily confiscating firearms from people deemed to be a threat to themselves or others. Of the Act, Demings said, "We must do what we can to make sure law enforcement has the tools it needs to more effectively perform the ever more challenging job of keeping us a safe nation. The Gun Violence Restraining Order Act is a major step to doing just that." After the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, Demings opposed arming teachers, saying such legislation was "ridiculous" and "only shift the responsibility from lawmakers to others. It shifts the pain, the hurt, and the guilt to school staff who will find themselves out skilled and outgunned in active shooter situations."
Demings has an "F" rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA). She has accused the NRA of "hijacking" conversations after mass shootings in the United States to make them about the Second Amendment.
In June 2019 Demings released a congressional report on insulin prices, criticizing manufacturers for raising prices well beyond manufacturing costs and said it was "inexcusable that American families are dying for the sake of corporate profit."
Impeachments of President Donald Trump
On December 18, 2019, Demings voted for both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump. She was selected as one of seven impeachment managers who presented the impeachment case against Trump during his trial before the United States Senate.
2021 U.S. Electoral College vote count
Citing the unusually contested 2021 United States Electoral College vote count and the 2021 storming of the United States Capitol, Demings joined U.S. Representative Cori Bush of Missouri in sponsoring House Resolution 25 on January 11, 2021, seeking to expel the 138 Republican U.S. Representatives who voted to object to the electoral college certification.
Her husband, Jerry Demings, is the former Orange County Sheriff and current mayor of Orange County, Florida. He served as the chief of the Orlando Police Department (OPD), the first African American to do so, from 1999 to 2002. The two met while on patrol in the OPD; they married in 1988 and have three children.
- List of African-American United States representatives
- Women in the United States House of Representatives
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- "H.Res.25 - Directing the Committee on Ethics to investigate, and issue a report on, whether any and all actions taken by Members of the 117th Congress who sought to overturn the 2020 Presidential election violated their oath of office to uphold the Constitution or the Rules of the House of Representatives, and should face sanction, including removal from the House of Representatives". Congress.gov. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Val Demings.|
- Congresswoman Val Demings official U.S. House website
- Val Demings for Congress official campaign website
- Val Demings at Curlie
- Biography at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
- Profile at Vote Smart
- Financial information (federal office) at the Federal Election Commission
- Legislation sponsored at the Library of Congress
- Appearances on C-SPAN
- Profile at The Wall Street Journal
- Val Demings Video produced by Makers: Women Who Make America