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Rubio Enters Presidential Race, Vacates U.S. Senate Seat

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As expected, Sen. Marco Rubio announced Monday that he will seek the Republican nomination for president. Under Florida law Rubio cannot run for both offices simultaneously, which sets up another major race in Florida next year.

“Marco Rubio has always been a risk taker. Nobody expected him to win the U.S. Senate seat in 2010 against a sitting governor (Charlie Crist) and a sitting congress member (Kendrick Meek). And lo and behold, he’s in the U.S. Senate today,” said Susan McManus, a political scientist at the University of South Florida.

And that leads us to this question: who will line up to seek the U.S. Senate seat Rubio is vacating? McManus says for now, the GOP field isn’t as wide as the pollsters would have you believe.

“Jeff Atwater said he’s not going to, and basically, Pam Bondi has said she’s happy to be Attorney General,” McManus said. “So I think at this point people are just throwing names out there, to see what seems to catch hold.”

Atwater, Florida’s Chief Financial Officer, said he’s received a “tremendous amount of encouragement" to run for the office, but in a written statement says that he remains committed to being the “best CFO he can be for the people of Florida.”

On the Democratic side, Congressman Patrick Murphy has already announced he is running for the seat in 2016. Murphy, a former Republican who switched parties in 2011, said that Rubio’s decision to leave the Senate for a presidential bid will have no effect on his campaign.

Considered a moderate Democrat, Murphy could get a primary challenge from fellow Cong. Alan Grayson, who’s aligned with the more progressive wing of the party.

“The head of the Progressive Democratic Caucus in Florida criticized the state party leadership for allegedly hand-picking Murphy and squeezing others out,” said McManus. “Basically, the more liberal wing of the party is dissatisfied with Murphy.”

At this point it appears that inside battles for the souls of each party are developing in the race for the open Senate seat. Democrats vs. their left wing, Republicans vs. their right. McManus says the last thing leaders in both parties want is another multi-million dollar race on top of one for the open seat in the White House.

Other possible GOP candidates for Rubio’s job include two other congressmen. Vern Buchanan, a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Ron DeSantis, who’s aligned with the Tea Party.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.