TALLAHASSEE, Florida – Former district attorney Aramis Ayala joins a fast-growing Democratic elementary school to replace Orlando Rep. Val Demings.
Ayala has officially decided to apply for the convention headquarters in central Florida. She is the second current or former elected Democrat to run for the seat after Demings signaled that she will challenge the U.S. Senator. Marco Rubio next year. State Senator Randolph Bracy announced on Tuesday that he was also looking for the seat.
Congressional District 10 is a safe Democratic seat, which means anyone who wins the primary is likely to land in Washington. President Joe Biden won the district nearly 62 percent in 2020 over Donald Trump, who won the state as a whole.
Ayala, who gained national attention for her fight against the then government. Rick Scott on the death penalty, initially wanted to run for the Senate, but changed direction after it became clear that Demings was planning to run against Rubio.
“I think this is where I can best serve,” Ayala told POLITICO.
Ayala, a black Democrat, served one term as prosecutor for Orange and Osceola counties. She won the seat in 2016 by dismissing, with the help of billionaire George Soros, an incumbent who included Ayala on a list of progressive prosecutors he supported across the country during that election cycle.
Called Demings a “fearless leader” and “apologetic advocate for women and people of color”, Ayala added that she would also be a campaigner for residents interested in affordable housing, living wages and environmental issues.
“All Floridians need a voice in Washington,” said Ayala. “I’ve done progressive work. I came in as a prosecutor to question the status quo. “
Ayala first gained national attention when she angered Scott and other Republicans over their decision to end the prosecution of the death penalty in criminal matters. She fought the governor to the Supreme Court after he transferred death sentences from her office to another prosecutor. The Supreme Court eventually sided with Scott. She decided against a second term as prosecutor in 2020.
Demings, a former Orlando Police Chief, was first elected to Congress in 2016. During Trump’s first impeachment, she gained national fame as a manager and was shortlisted for potential runner-ups for Biden.
The 10th Congressional District is located in Orange County. Florida’s GOP-controlled legislature will draw new congressional cards in early 2022, but make major changes to a seat that a sizeable black minority – who make up the majority of the district’s Democratic voters – could create a federal legal challenge.