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Exclusive: Florida law enforcement officials who support Sen. Marco Rubio in the latest campaign announcement of the Republican incumbent, his Democratic challenger, Rep. Val Demings was targeted.

The statement by Rubio and the National Senatorial Campaign Committee, shared with Fox News on Friday, is the latest effort by the senator to question the former Orlando police chief’s support for police funding with the issue of crime and law enforcement center stage. In a high-profile, high-stakes and expensive Florida Senate race.

The spot, which the Rubio campaign says is part of their current seven-figure ad buy, opens with a June 2020 clip of Demings saying “America has failed” on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

“Congresswoman Demings, America didn’t fail. You did,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey charged in the statement.

FIRST ON FOX: Demings uses new ad to push back on Rubio’s ‘Defend the Police’ attacks

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is inducted by the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police on June 17, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida is inducted by the Florida State Fraternal Order of Police on June 17, 2022 in Orlando, Florida.
(Marco Rubio Senate Campaign)

Marion County Sheriff Billy Woods asserted that “America didn’t vote 100% with Nancy Pelosi. You did.”

Steve Jonah, president of the Florida chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said, “America doesn’t appreciate defunding the police. That’s Val Demings,” Bradford County Sheriff Gordon Smith said, adding that Demings “sold out to liberals.” Our backs to law enforcement.”

Crime and policing are a major issue in Florida’s high-stakes Senate race

Ivy accused “Demings of going to Washington and becoming Pelosi’s puppet,” calling the congresswoman “another radical rubber stamp.”

The statement was the second in the past two weeks by Rubio and the re-election arm of Senate Republicans to criticize Demings for voting in line with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Rubio, who is running for a third six-year term, has repeatedly targeted Demings for comments he made in 2020 regarding a proposal to defend and overhaul the Minneapolis, Minnesota, police department in the wake of the killing — which was defeated a year later. George Floyd, a black man, is a white police officer.

Rubio took aim at impeaching the former police chief

He also criticized Demings’ past support for replacing qualified immunity, a legal doctrine that shields police officers from lawsuits over what they do on the beat, but which critics claim shields law enforcement from accountability. Demings supported the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2021, which includes provisions that would eliminate qualified immunity for police. The measure passed the Democratic-controlled House across party lines, but later died in the Senate.

Demings, who has spent nearly three decades in law enforcement and rose through the ranks to become Orlando’s first female police chief, has repeatedly noted her crime-fighting resume.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is questioned by Representative Val Demings (D-FL) during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice on October 21, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US.  Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS

Attorney General Merrick Garland is questioned by Representative Val Demings (D-FL) during a House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing of the Department of Justice on October 21, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, US. Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS
(Greg Nash/Pool via REUTERS)

“In the Senate I will protect Florida from bad ideas like cheating the police. That would be crazy,” she asserted in a June launch statement. “Florida, it’s time to send a cop on the beat to the Senate.”

And in a spot released Thursday and first reported by Fox News, some of Demings’ former law enforcement colleagues insist she “would never pay the police.”

While Rubio has averaged an upper single-digit lead in recent opinion polls, Demings has so far outpaced the incumbent. Her fundraising of $12.5 million in the April-June second quarter of 2022 dwarfed the $4.5 million the senator brought in during the same three-month period.

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The Senate showdown between Rubio and Demings could be the costliest of the cycle.

Democrats face historic headwinds and a difficult political environment this cycle as they try to preserve their razor-thin Senate majority in November. And Florida, once a top general election battleground state, has turned red of late. Top nonpartisan political pollsters, including the Fox News Power Rankings, rate the Florida Senate race as lean Republican.