Marco Rubio, once championed as the future of Florida’s Republican Party, appears headed for a tough re-election fight to keep a job some believe he never fulfilled.
Rubio, 45, Florida’s junior U.S. Senator in Washington, announced his intentions Wednesday afternoon to seek re-election. His decision has many political analysts shaking their heads.
“It’s a total ego trip,” said a Capitol Hill staffer, speaking by telephone with SFGN on the condition of anonymity.
Just last year Rubio had all but abandoned his Senate seat to campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination to the U.S. Presidency. However, he was beaten badly in the primaries by New York businessman Donald J. Trump and outflanked on the right by U.S. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
On Wednesday, Rubio announced he would campaign to keep his Senate seat.
“I changed my mind,” Rubio told CNN. “I never said I was perfect and I had every answer. When you are not perfect and don’t have every answer there will come times when you change your mind.”
Rubio’s reversal prompted two would be rivals – Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Congressman Ron DeSantis (R-Jacksonville) -- to leave the race. Two other Republican candidates – Orlando defense contractor Todd Wilcox and millionaire land speculator Carlos Beruff – figure to be Rubio’s chief challengers in the GOP primary election (Aug.30).
Andy Eddy, a member of the Broward Log Cabin Republicans Club, said only Wilcox had spoken to the LGBT inclusive group.
“He’s (Wilcox) reaching out more than the other candidates,” Eddy said.
Eddy said he was “surprised” by Rubio’s change of course, but admitted to not being close to his office. “He’s never been to any of our (Log Cabin Broward) meetings,” Eddy said.
Meanwhile, Democrats wasted no time in blasting Rubio’s decision.
“Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize,” said U.S. Congressman Patrick E. Murphy (D-Jupiter), in a news release. “Unlike Marco Rubio, I love working hard every single day for the people of Florida.”
Murphy is competing with fellow Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) for the Democratic nomination. Each state is allocated two U.S. Senators who serve six-year terms. Rubio was elected in 2010 during the Tea Party wave that swept Republicans into power.
What Rubio has done with that power is the question.
“From missing the most votes of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years, to seeking to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest, to repeatedly voting against closing the terrorist gun loophole, Rubio is proving he is only out for himself.”
Pompano Beach voter Eileen Pangione agreed.
“I would never vote for him (Rubio) under any circumstance,” Pangione said. “He’s done nothing. He’s never there to vote.”
When Rubio does cast his vote on bills he seldom breaks with the pro-gun lobby. In January of 2016, Rubio told The Hill news organization that President Barack Obama would “confiscate every gun in America” and “get rid of the Second Amendment.” In the same interview Rubio was quoted as saying, “ISIS and terrorists do not get their guns from a gun show.”
“He does not want to take guns out of the hands of terrorists,” said a Capitol Hill staffer, speaking to SFGN on the condition of anonymity.
In a news release, Wilcox seems less concerned with firearm regulations and more interested in a sweeping revolution.
“It’s not just time for a new generation of leaders, it’s time for new leadership altogether,” said Wilcox, a U.S. Army combat veteran and Special Forces commander. “If we expect to change the direction of our country, Florida’s next U.S. Senator cannot come from the same political class who are already running Washington, D.C. We need leadership with real-world experience, whose sole priority is restoring America’s prominence, not getting re-elected or running for the next political office.”
During his doomed quest for the Republican Party’s Presidential nomination, Rubio won the Minnesota Caucus, but nothing else. He lost every county in Florida to Trump with the exception of his home county of Miami-Dade. His battle with Trump turned nasty in the end with Trump labeling him “Little Marco” and Rubio calling the New York businessman a “con artist.”
UPDATE: Wilcox announced on Friday he was withdrawing from the race and throwing his support to Rubio.