Former Orlando police chief and congressional candidate Val Demings’ delayed entry into the 2014 Orange County mayoral race against incumbent Teresa Jacobs was supposed to be the kick in the pants that local Democrats needed in a midterm election year. Demings’ brand, after all, was on the uptick, with appearances flanking former President Bill Clinton and a slew of national television moments populating her résumé. Jacobs, meanwhile, was languishing in the embarrassments of an administration mired in the litigious buffoonery of “textgate.” But from the get-go, Demings never really felt like she was “all in” with the municipal race, something that’s since been attributed to outside consultants and internal party rifts more than to Demings herself. When trusted local Democrats like Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and former Orange County Mayor Linda Chapin refused to come out in Demings’ favor – both fearing the wrath of Jacobs on their beloved performing arts center project – Demings packed up her toys and disappeared. Now it could prove difficult to engage Democrats at the polls in August, which could also pull momentum from November.
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