Orlando’s first female police chief, Val B. Demings, is on track to fill the open seat in Florida’s redrawn 10th District, the Associated Press projects.
Demings led opponent Thuy Lowe by more than 33 percentage points with 0 percent of precincts reporting.
Coming into Election Day, the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rated the race Safe Democrat.
Congressional redistricting painted more of Orlando into the 10th, while reducing territory to the south and west. The district still straddles the Interstate 4 corridor.
With his future in the House thrown into doubt late in 2015 by a court-mandated congressional district remap, Webster announced in February that instead of running in his current 10th District, he would run in the neighboring 11th District, a seat held by Republican Rich Nugent, who had announced his retirement.
As a consequence of court cases that produced the unusual mid-decade congressional remapping of Florida, Demings was expecting to have no trouble securing a district drawn with sizable ethnic minority populations.
Most of the Democratic establishment had rallied behind Demings, including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, in the Aug. 30 primary, which she won with 57 percent against three opponents.
Demings is one of four guaranteed newcomers to Congress who are women.
She spent the week after a mass shooting in Orlando in June attending vigils and memorial services in her hometown.
She delivered food and water to donors at a blood bank and attended a fundraiser for employees of Pulse, the gay nightclub where a gunman killed 49 people.
Demings will come to Washington with a perspective on policing and criminal justice that reflects her being African-American and a former leader of the Orlando Police Department.
“When people were in trouble they’d call the police department, believing that when we got there, things would be better,” she says. “I love that feeling.”
A proponent of community-oriented policing, her contacts with local and county government run deep. One of her main planks is making sure police officers understand the communities they work in, saying the lack of such familiarity is a cause of recent community-police tension.