Marco Rubio projected to defeat Val Demings in Florida Senate race

Republican Marco Rubio is expected to keep his seat as the senior senator of Florida as polls project him to defeat his Democrat opponent, Val Demings.

"After tonight, the Republican Party will never be the same," Rubio said in a victory speech Tuesday night, touting what he says is the diversity of his party. "This is a party made up of people from every color, every race, every ethnicity, men and women."

PHOTO: Sen. Marco Rubio smiles as he addresses supporters during an Election Night party, on Nov. 8, 2012, in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)
PHOTO: Sen. Marco Rubio smiles as he addresses supporters during an Election Night party, on Nov. 8, 2012, in Miami. (Wilfredo Lee/AP)

Demings in her concession speech touched on the importance of democracy.

"I stand by the decision of the people," Demings said. She added, "Our democracy, it still matters."

PHOTO: Senate candidate Rep. Val Demings speaks to supporters after she was defeated in her election bid, on Nov. 8, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)
PHOTO: Senate candidate Rep. Val Demings speaks to supporters after she was defeated in her election bid, on Nov. 8, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (John Raoux/AP)

During the Senate debate on Oct. 18, Demings challenged Rubio on his stance on abortion rights, accusing the two-term senator of supporting "no exceptions" to abortion bans and often changing his stance.

"He can make his mouth say anything today," Demings said. "He is good at that, by the way. What day is it and what is Marco Rubio saying?"

Demings also accused Rubio of not doing enough to support legislation that would prevent shootings, including those at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando in 2016 and Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland in 2018.

Rubio argued that some proposals for gun restrictions would not have stopped many of the mass shootings, evoking the Second Amendment and Americans' right to protect themselves.

"Every one of these shooters would have passed the background check that she keeps insisting on," Rubio said of Demings. "No one here is in favor of mass shootings and violence."

MORE: Val Demings reveals ups and downs of running for Senate in Florida

During the debate, Rubio criticized federal spending, partly blaming pandemic relief funds and said that the country needs to boost domestic oil production. He also accused Demings of accomplishing little in terms of passing legislation during her time in Washington and criticized her for supporting President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

"In the two terms I've been there, no U.S. senator has gotten more done than I have," Rubio said. "The only thing she does is vote 100% with Pelosi."

PHOTO: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio speaks during a 'Save America' campaign rally, Nov. 6, 2022, in Miami. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: U.S. Senator Marco Rubio speaks during a 'Save America' campaign rally, Nov. 6, 2022, in Miami. (Eva Marie Uzcategui/AFP via Getty Images)

Rubio began serving in the Senate in 2011 after defeating Charlie Crist, then governor of Florida. He has served as the vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee since 2021 and previously served as chair of the Senate Small Business Committee from January 2019 to February 2021.

Demings, who has served as the U.S. representative from Florida's 10th Congressional District in Orlando since 2017, announced last year that she would run against Rubio for his Senate seat. The three-term congresswoman was also the chief of the Orlando Police Department for 18 years.

MORE: Marco Rubio canvasser was 'attacked' while passing out fliers, senator says; 1 man arrested

Demings was one of about a dozen women Biden considered as his pick for vice president. She also served as one of seven House managers at former President Donald Trump's first impeachment trial.

The Senate has had no Black women serving as senators since the departure of Vice President Kamala Harris.

PHOTO: Rep. Val Demings, candidate for the U.S. Senate, speaks to her supporters during during a campaign rally, Nov. 5, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Rep. Val Demings, candidate for the U.S. Senate, speaks to her supporters during during a campaign rally, Nov. 5, 2022, in Tampa, Fla. (Octavio Jones/Getty Images)

Recent voter registration trends show an uptick of Republican voters in Miami-Dade County, previously considered a Democratic stronghold, The Associated Press reported. Losing Miami-Dade County could eliminate a Democratic path to victory in future statewide elections, according to The AP.

ABC News' Meg Cunningham contributed to this report.

Marco Rubio projected to defeat Val Demings in Florida Senate race originally appeared on abcnews.go.com