Marco Rubio Reconsidering Decision Not To Run For Re-Election

Marco Rubio may be running for re-election to the Senate after all.

Marco Rubio Speaking

Three months after dropping out of the race for President due to a humbling second place finish in Florida’s Presidential Primary, Marco Rubio is hinting that he is reconsidering his decision to decline running for re-election to the Senate:

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who pledged for months not to seek re-election to the Senate as he waged an ill-fated campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, said Wednesday that he is rethinking that decision and could enter the race as soon as next week.

Rubio said his decision followed a Sunday conversation with his friend Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), who is running to succeed him in the Senate, on the sidelines of the scene of the terror attack in Orlando.

“Obviously, I take very seriously everything that’s going on — not just Orlando, but in our country,” Rubio said. “I enjoy my service here a lot. So I’ll go home later this week, and I’ll have some time with my family, and then if there’s been a change in our status I’ll be sure to let everyone know.”

In that conversation in Orlando, according to a Politico interview with Lopez-Cantera, the lieutenant governor urged Rubio to reconsider his decision not to run and pledged to exit the race if he did decide to do so. The primary election is Aug. 30.

Rubio told reporters he was rethinking his stance as he entered a closed-door briefing on the Orlando attack in the Capitol with law enforcement and homeland security officials. He did not respond to questions after making a brief statement.

Rubio faces a June 24 deadline for declaring his candidacy. That night, he is scheduled to headline a fundraiser for Lopez-Cantera in a Coral Gables hotel.

Besides Lopez-Cantera, four Republicans have mounted credible campaigns to succeed Rubio. One of them, Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.), has openly said he will bow out of the race should Rubio decided seek re-election and has scheduled a Friday news conference to announce whether he will remain in the Senate race, run for re-election to the House or bow out of politics altogether.

Another Republican, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), has not addressed the Rubio-runs scenario. Two wealthy political outsiders seeking the office, businessmen Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox, told The Washington Post this month that they would not clear the field for Rubio if he ran.

When Rubio first entered the race for President last year, he made clear that he would not run for re-election to the Senate at the same time as he was running for President, a move that set him apart from fellow Senator and Presidential candidate Rand Paul, who ran simultaneous Presidential and Senate re-election campaigns and even took steps to change Kentucky’s Presidential primary to a caucus so he could maintain both campaigns at least until it was clear whether or not he would win the Republican Presidential nomination. Not surprisingly, Rubio’s announcement set off something of  feeding frenzy on both sides of the political aisle as candidates jumped on what is arguably the most hotly contested open Senate seat of the 2016 election cycle. After he dropped out of the race for President there was some speculation that Rubio would possibly enter the race for his Senate seat after all, or perhaps run for Governor of Florida in 2018 when Rick Scott would be term-limited from running for a third consecutive term. At the time, Rubio said he had no such plans, and also ruled out being considered as a potential Vice-Presidential running mate for whomever won the nomination. Since then, however, political developments in Florida itself, including the polling that shows that Congressman Patrick Murphy is leading each of the potential Republican nominees for Rubio’s seat have led to calls for Rubio to reconsider his decision not to run for re-election, especially with the June 24th candidate filing deadline fast approaching. As recently as last week, Rubio again ruled out getting into the race, in part because one of his close allies is a candidate in the Republican Primary. Now, though, with that ally saying he’d leave the race if Rubio got in, it appears that Rubio may not be as done with Florida politics as we thought in March. As a result, the race for the Republican nomination is seemingly in limbo at this point as everyone waits to see what Rubio will decide to do.

Not withstanding the fact that he finished a seemingly weak and disappointing second behind Trump in the Florida Presidential Primary, there are plenty of signs that Rubio could do very well in the Senate primary if he did enter the race. When all of the votes were counted from that night, Rubio ended up with more than 27% of the vote. By contrast, Congressman David Jolly, the leader in the polls for the Republican nomination for Senate, is averaging just 12% and polling indicates that more than 60% of voters are undecided. With more than two months to go before the primary, that’s not entirely surprising but it does suggest that there’s room for Rubio to get back in the race and shoot to the top of the polls rather quickly. Indeed, it’s not entirely clear that anyone would put up more than a token opposition if he did that. Moreover, unlike any of the other candidates Rubio has something of a campaign war chest he can rely on, as well as the ability to raise a lot of money in a short period of time. Additionally, while there has not been much polling of head-to-head matchups between Rubio and any of the potential Democratic candidates, the polling that has been done suggests that he would be far more competitive than any of the current Republican candidates even in a state where Hillary Clinton may well beat Donald Trump in the top of the ticket race. With all that in mind, if Rubio does want to stay in politics this would seem to be his best alternative at the moment.

In any case, with the filing deadline approaching next Friday, we should know Rubio’s decision soon enough.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Congress, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed for too young in July 2021.

Comments

  1. Pete S says:

    Hopefully a Democratic opponent would be able to tie Rubio in knots with his pretty lackluster performance as a Senator in his only term, along with being able to directly question his judgment by announcing his intention to vote for Donald Trump despite calling him unqualified to be president.

  2. Kylopod says:

    Just remember: he’s doing it for his country.

  3. Rubio suddenly realized that not being a Senator means he’d have to get a real job, so he wants back on the gravy train.

  4. jd says:

    In other news, leopard does NOT change its spots.

  5. An Interested Party says:

    …announcing his intention to vote for Donald Trump despite calling him unqualified to be president.

    Much like attacking Republican senators in New Hampshire, Wisconsin, and Illinois by tying Trump around their necks, the same should be done if Rubio decides to run…good luck explaining his support for Trump to his Hispanic constituents…

  6. al-Ameda says:

    Even though he showed himself to be insufferably light on the national stage, I think he could probably be elected to the senate indefinitely. It’s just different running a statewide campaign – ask Jeb Bush about that.

  7. dmichael says:

    Doug, you omitted something from your post: On Wednesday, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who is making a run for Rubio’s seat, said the Republican senator doesn’t appear to have been swayed. In other reports, the Lt. Gov. said that he is still running for Rubio’s seat. In summary, Rubio can play “Hamlet” all he wants but to run for reelection would require him to kick his buddy the Lt. Gov. out of the way.

  8. Jc says:

    What can’t make up its mind, has no spine, repeats one line and lives on the taxpayer’s dime?

  9. DrDaveT says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Rubio suddenly realized that not being a Senator means he’d have to get a real job

    Yeah, I’m guessing the phone hasn’t been ringing off the hook with offers of cushy Fox News or GOP “think tank” positions…

  10. gVOR08 says:

    Twerp. Can’t even quit right. Even Palin stayed quit after she quit.

  11. DrDaveT says:

    @al-Ameda:

    Even though he showed himself to be insufferably light on the national stage

    Nicely put.

    The Unbearable Lightness of Being Marco Rubio.

  12. grumpy realist says:

    Balloon Juice has been making merriment over the Usual Suspects supporting Rubio’s triple-axel political ditherings.

  13. JohnMcC says:

    As is typical of Florida Democrats, it looks like the opportunity to win Sen Rubio’s seat will be wasted. The two main D-party contenders are Rep Alan Grayson who is noted principally for bombast and bluster and Rep Patrick Murphy who is noted for defeating the odious Alan West but is colorless and Republican-friendly.

    There is a woman, Pam Keith, who makes a great impression but has no chance.

    My congressman is David Jolley and he would like to move to the Senate. If he remains in the House following a change in Sen Rubio’s plans, he will probably face Charlie Crist. I don’t have any idea how that race is being handicapped but the boundaries of my district have been re-drawn and it’s thought we are somewhat more Democrat-leaning these days.