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Image: Val Demings
Rep. Val Demings attends a gun Violence Memorial installation at Bayfront Park, on Dec. 13, 2021, in Miami, Fla.Lynne Sladky / AP file

Democrats distance themselves from 'defund the police' in TV ads

Democratic Senate candidates in Arizona, Florida and Ohio are spending money on the airwaves making their positions clear.


While Republicans across the country have spent years trying to frame Democrats as the party of “Defund the Police,” a trio of Democrats facing tough races this fall are distancing themselves from the rhetoric with new ads siding with law enforcement.

In one recent ad, Rep. Val Demings, R-Fla., a former police chief, called defunding the police "crazy." Demings faces a tough general election for Senate in Florida against incumbent Republican Marco Rubio.

In Ohio, Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, dropped a new ad today featuring a local sheriff who tells viewers, "Tim Ryan knows defunding the police is ridiculous." Ryan, too, faces a tough battle against author J.D. Vance, the Republican nominee for Senate who is endorsed by former President Donald Trump.

And in Arizona, where Republicans are gearing up for a fierce battle to take down Democratic Senator Mark Kelly, Kelly ran an ad last week telling viewers about his mother's career as a police officer, adding, "When I hear people talking about defunding the police, I know they're wrong."

Meanwhile Republicans are continuing to tie Democrats to the movement to defund the police in the hopes of magnifying rhetoric from the party’s left flank to frame candidates as too liberal. For example House Freedom Action ran an ad advocating for a candidate who will stand up “against woke liberals trying to defund the police." In Illinois, a leading Republican candidate for governor called defunding the police “ludicrous.”

The movement to defund the police took off in 2020, during protests for criminal justice following George Floyd's death that year. Many Democrats have never campaigned on a platform to defund the police, but this trio of ads demonstrate how moderate Democrats are looking to blunt those attacks from the GOP.