Rubio Seeks Re-Election to Senate After Failed White House Run

Jun 22, 2016

Sen. Marco Rubio greets supporters during a March, 2016 rally in downtown Pensacola.
Credit Pensacola News Journal, w/permission

Marco Rubio wants to keep his current job. The former Republican presidential candidate says he’s decided to run for re-election to his Florida U-S Senate seat after weeks of denials.

Three months and 180 degrees later, Rubio issued a statement saying it’s important for him to continue in public service during what he calls a “critical time for the nation.” He reiterated his decision on Fox News.

“There is [sic] a lot of reasons. I think it’s been clearly outlined that I’m frustrated by what’s happening in the Senate. Most Americans [also] are with the gridlock,” said Rubio. But the

Rubio added that he wants to be around to help the Senate act as a check and balance against whoever’s elected president.

“Bad ideas from the president, I think, are going to matter more in 2017, than they ever have in our history,” Rubio said. “I really and deeply believe that I can contribute to that. I want to contribute to that.”

The first-term senator says that control of the Senate could come down to the race in Florida, which would mean the future of the Supreme Court as well as critical policy deals could be determined by the Florida Senate race.

Charles Zelden, a political scientist at Nova Southeastern University, says an open U.S. Senate seat would favor the Democrats.  Rubio’s decision follows a month of heavy lobbying from top Republicans and soul-searching on the part of Rubio after the Orlando attack. He had also been under intense pressure from party leaders -- including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell -- to run, amid concerns the other candidates couldn't keep the seat in GOP hands.

“Because then you would have somebody running that is not a sitting Senator,” said Zelden. “You might have it be somebody who’s a political neophyte. Having Rubio run, he is the incumbent; that’s the strength of the matter. The downside is that he’s not a particularly strong incumbent right now.”

Rep. Patrick Murphy, a favorite among establishment Democrats for that party’s nomination, quickly blasted Rubio on Twitter for missing numerous key Senate votes and intelligence briefings to campaign for the White House.

Murphy’s primary opponent, Cong. Alan Grayson, minced even fewer words.

“I don’t know why [Rubio] wants to continue on the job; he doesn’t seem to show any interest in it and for God’s sake, certainly no flair,” Grayson said. “I was genuinely puzzled why anybody thought he was a plausible candidate for president because frankly, he’s so bad as a senator.”

Marco Rubio’s re-election bid has caused a domino effect among other Republican candidates. Shortly after his announcement, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera dropped out of the Senate race, as have Congressmen David Jolly and Ron DeSantis. Nova’s Charles Zelden says they’re leaving because of their slim chances of winning, brought about by Donald Trump.

“It doesn’t matter what you’re running for; you could run for dogcatcher [and] if you’re a Republican, people are going to ask you ‘How do you stand on the Trump issue?’” said Zelden. “In Florida, where the key to winning is always the [Interstate-4] Corridor, and the key to winning the I-4 Corridor is the Hispanic vote, that poses difficulties for the Republicans right now.”

Two other GOP senate candidates -- real estate developer Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox – tell the Tampa Bay Times that they would not be pressured into abandoning their campaigns.