This week, Florida Rep. Val Demings (D) spoke at the American Federation of Teachers Convention in Boston. Demings’ speech rallied support for her Senate candidacy while also praising Randi Weingarten, the AFT president. However, the Rubio campaign is calling her AFT appearance as an example that she’s part of “the school lockdown camp.”
The American Federation of Teachers endorsed Demings, saying that the decision between Demings and Rubio is clear.
“Demings supported the U.S. House’s comprehensive Protecting Our Kids gun safety bill,” reporting on the AFT's site states, adding that “Rubio is reportedly one of the National Rifle Association’s top campaign contribution recipients.”
At the convention, Demings made it clear that she’s “running to win,” and in her speech she praised Randi Weingarten, whom the Rubio campaign argues leads “the school lockdown camp.”
“Leadership is not easy,” said Demings, commenting that she believes “in giving honor to whom honor is due and I want to start by giving honor to your president, the amazing Randi Weingarten.”
In response, the Rubio campaign released a statement, chiding the comments.
Elizabeth Gregory, the communications director for the Rubio campaign, commented that “Val Demings’ effusive praise for school lockdown leader Randi Weingarten shows Florida parents she cares more about appeasing teachers unions than their children’s education,” adding that “Weingarten led the fight to keep kids across the country out of school for months, which contributed to unprecedented learning loss for an entire generation, and Demings endorsed it.”
Gregory concluded that “Demings is putting party politics over the education and wellbeing of our nation’s children.”
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) and Republicans found themselves at odds with Democrats over students being able to go back to school. Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) supported students going back to in-person classes, and GOP members were critical of teacher's unions for pushing back against the idea.