U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-FL, appears to want to keep his current job. After a failed presidential bid and months of saying he wouldn't run again for the U.S. Senate, Rubio is reversing course.
Update: 7:19 p.m.: During his run for president, Senator Marco Rubio maintained he wouldn’t return to Capitol Hill after his first term.
I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 17, 2016
Now that he has changed his mind, Floridians on both sides of the aisle have mixed reactions.
“I’m very glad that he is deciding to seek reelection,” Says Mac Stipanovich, a long time Republican strategist. “He has the best chance to hold seat for the Republican Party, and we’re going to need to have a Republican Senate when Hillary Clinton’s president.”
A recent poll from Quinnipiac University shows Florida voters are siding with Rubio. He leads Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-FL, by seven points and Rep. Alan Grayson, D-FL, by eight.
Peter Brown is an assistant director at Quinnipiac University Poll. He says Rubio running as the incumbent gives the senator an advantage.
“He has a positive job approval rating," Brown says. "Voters like him. You know incumbents can tend to get reelected. He’s a fairly popular incumbent. He’s obviously ahead.
"But (will he) be ahead in November? We’ll see. But again, it’s better to be up seven or eight points than to be down seven.”
Despite Rubio’s lead Murphy says he isn’t worried.
“You know Senator Rubio thinks the Senate is a chore," Murphy said in a telephone conference with reporters. "I love showing up to work, and I love working hard. Senator Rubio thinks the Senate can’t get things done. I mean he said in a quote, ‘We’re not going fix America with senators and congressmen.' He said, 'I’m missing votes because I’m leaving the Senate.’ You know, Senator, I just got to tell you, I think Floridians expect better.”
Stipanovich also agrees that in order to win the Senate seat, Rubio will need to prove to Florida voters that he wants the job.
“As Ricky Ricardo would say...he’s got a lot of ‘splainin’ to do," Stipanovich says. "That would be his commitment not to seek reelection. Some of the things and positions he took during the presidential campaign, he may have to walk back now. He’s going to have to deal with his poor attendance in the Senate while he was running for president. So, I think one of the greatest difficulties he will have is pursuading voters that he wants the job and that he will do the job."
Since Rubio’s announcement, GOP candidates David Jolly, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Ron DeSantis have dropped out of the race.
In a press release from Lopez-Cantera’s campaign, the former candidate called on GOP candidates Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox to also drop out of the race and support Rubio.
However, Beruff says he plans to stay.
“(Rubio) broke promises," Beruff says. "He continually breaks promises to the public. He did not represent Florida citizens, and now he realizes this is the way he can stay in the limelight. I think Floridians will see through that. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’m willing to take my chances.”
The Tampa Bay Times reports Wilcox also plans to stay in the race.
Update: 1:51 p.m.: Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis is out of the U.S. Senate race. He'll run for re-election in his current seat. He's the second Republican to drop out of the race after Senator Marco Rubio announced he's running for re-election.
"In light of the Rubio development, I can best advance the cause by running for reelection to the U.S. House in the 6th Congressional District, where I can continue protecting taxpayers, promoting economic growth, helping our veterans, and supporting our military."
Meanwhile, Republican candidate Carlos Beruff says he's staying in the race.
Update 11:40 a.m.: Florida Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera says he's dropping out of the U.S. Senate race to make room for his friend, Marco Rubio.
"As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful yet difficult decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be," he said.
Lopez Cantera is encouraging Republicans Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox to end their U.S. Senate bids and "unite" behind Rubio as well.
Original Story: In the wake of last week's mass shooting in an Orlando gay nightclub, Rubio told talk radio Hugh Hewitt he'd been "deeply impacted" by the event and was reconsidering his role in public service. Rubio also spoke to Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera, who is running for Rubio's seat.
A Quinnipiac Poll released Wednesday shows Rubio as the best candidate to win the race in a Presidential election year, which favors Democrats. And his fellow Republicans had also been urging Rubio to run again.
“While Marco is already in a strong position to win, Democrats are currently locked in a bruising primary that will produce a weak nominee and cost millions of dollars," said National Republican Senatorial Campaign Director Roger Wicker.
"The Democrat establishment has gone all-in for Patrick Murphy, who has fabricated every piece of his resume except for the fact that he is a sitting Congressman and holds his office thanks to a family fortune. Alan Grayson is, in a word, unelectable. Neither candidate is a match for Marco Rubio, and I will be proud to have him as a member of our Republican majority for years to come.”
Rubio released a lengthy statement on his decision, saying "I understand my opponents will try to use this decision to score political points against me." He outlines concerns about both Democratic presumptive nominee Hilary Clinton and GOP presumptive nominee Donald Trump.
"With Hillary Clinton, we would have four more years of the same failed economic policies that have left us with a stagnant economy. We would have four more years of the same failed foreign policy that has allowed radical Islam to spread, and terrorists to be released from Guantanamo. And even worse, if Clinton were president and her party took control of Congress, she would govern without Congressional oversight or limit. It would be a repeat of the early years of the current administration, when we got Obamacare, the failed stimulus and a record debt.
The prospect of a Trump presidency is also worrisome to me. It is no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald Trump. His positions on many key issues are still unknown. And some of his statements, especially about women and minorities, I find not just offensive but unacceptable. If he is elected, we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both."
Shortly after the announcement, Democrats pounced, using a New York Times article to accuse Rubio of posturing for a future presidential campaign.
"The only reason Rubio wants to be reelected to a job he hates is so he can collect a taxpayer funded paycheck while he plans his next presidential campaign. Floridians deserve better," said FDP spokesman Max Steele.
Republican Congressman David Jolly dropped out of the U.S. Senate race last week, alluding to Rubio's run. Jolly will campaign for his current job, and face former Gov. Charlie Crist, considered a front-runner for that seat. And Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson took a shot at Rubio a day before the announcement.
“He doesn’t seem to show any interest for it, and for god’s sake certainly no flair. Maybe he should let somebody else do it for a while who has some ability to get good things done for the people of Florida," Grayson said.
Check back later on for more on this story.