Former Orlando police Chief Val Demings stunned many of her supporters and announced Tuesday that she was ending her campaign to unseat Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, explaining that it was “not the right race at this time.”
“I am humbled by and grateful for the support I have received from every corner of our county,” Demings said in a statement released by her campaign. “After careful analysis I have determined that this is just not the right race at this time.”
A campaign consultant listed on the press release added little to the statement, and beyond timing, offered no further reasons for her departure.
“Right now, this is not the right race for her,” said Kate Coyne-McCoy, a Demings’ campaign consultant. Demings’ local spokeswoman declined to discuss the departure, and the former police chief could not be immediately reached.
Demings launched her bid to unseat the first-term mayor in January, announcing she was running to bolster public safety and schools and ensure that all citizens and small businesses have a voice.
Her initial fundraising was robust, but relied heavily on state Democratic Party funding. An early poll also showed she had an uphill fight, with a local Realtor survey in the spring showing Jacobs outpacing Demings 48 percent to 33 percent.
A recent sign of potential turmoil emerged earlier this month when her campaign manager Mitchell Norton unexpectedly left the campaign for Washington D.C.
A statement from Demings’ campaign spokeswoman Lisa Carter then said: “Mitchell Norton helped to get us started but this campaign is growing rapidly and we are excited to move forward and announce our new manager soon.”
Top Democratic fundraiser and supporter Bob Poe said the development “was rather shocking.”
“I’d be surprised because this was a winnable race,” Poe said. “And all my conversations with her was about how committed she was to the race.”
Organize Now executive director Stephanie Porta said she got a call from Demings minutes before the press release informing her of the decision to drop out. “She said it’s not the right time,” said Porta.
Tuesday’s statement, which referred to her as “a rising star in Florida Democratic politics,” said that Demings made the decision to leave the race after “careful consideration including consultations with family” and supporters.
“There are many ways to contribute to my community,” Demings said. “My commitment to the place I call home didn’t begin with this campaign and certainly doesn’t end with it. I will continue to explore ways to make our great county a wonderful place to live, work and raise a family.”
“She wants to run for congress,” Head said. “The lawsuit [challenging gerrymandered districts] is going well, and the opportunity to challenge Webster looks more viable, especially if the [new] district takes in the southern end of Corrine’s district. That’s her motivation.”
This is a developing story. Check back later for updates.Mark Schlueb contributed to this report.