When Marco Rubio announced that he would run for president last year, this meant that he would not be running for re-election, since Florida law prohibits candidates from running for two offices at once. Once he suspended his presidential campaign in May, however, Rubio could have opted to run for re-election in the Senate, but he refused.
But now, the first-term Senator from Florida is facing increasing pressure to reconsider his decision, in the face of prospects that Rubio’s Republican Party could lose control of the U.S. Senate this November.
“Behind the scenes, a number of senators, donors and leading party officials have privately prodded Rubio to make a late entry into the race to prevent his seat from flipping,” CNN reported. “Rubio is declining — but the pressure is only bound to intensify ahead of the June 24 filing deadline.”
CNN: GOP pressuring Marco Rubio to run for reelection because of fear of losing FL Senate seat. https://t.co/zmf6cLTfr4— Garrett Ventry (@GarrettVentry) May 26, 2016
For instance, John Cornyn (R-TX), who is the second highest-ranking Senator behind Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has now publicly called upon Rubio to reconsider.
“It’s obviously a very personal decision, but I think it would be good for the party, it would be good for the Senate — I’d like to see him do it,” Cornyn told CNN.
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Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) heads up the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which is responsible for overseeing recruiting and funding of U.S. Senate candidates. After the meeting with McConnell, Wicker confronted Rubio about his decision, and called the possibility of Rubio’s changing his mind “a very real development.”
CNN also noted that in a closed-door meeting, McConnell brought up the very real prospects of losing Rubio’s senate seat if he did not change his mind. He asked those in attendance if Rubio should reconsider, “and virtually everyone raised their hands, attendees said.”
But as the Washington Post noted, there are strong reasons to believe that Rubio will not reconsider, since “he’s also been pretty clear that he won’t do it, and there are plenty of reasons to believe him.”
Among the reasons cited by The Post for why Rubio would not reconsider are the following.
- Rubio’s position as a Washington insider.
- His declining popularity in Florida.
- His friend is already in the race.
- The filing deadline is a month away.
- Rubio reportedly really dislikes the Senate.
“It’s not that he dislikes the Senate, it’s that the decision has been made and there’s really no reason to revisit it,” a source told The Post.
In a separate story, The Post ranked Rubio’s senate seat as the third most likely to flip parties, given his decision not to run for re-election.
The Post added that internal Republican polls show Rubio beating the two Democrats who have announced for the Florida senate seat, Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, “by a long shot.”
The Miami Herald catalogued the Republicans seeking to succeed Rubio: U.S. Congressmen Ron DeSantis and David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, homebuilder Carlos Beruff, and businessman Todd Wilcox.
In contrast, those running in his place would have a much more difficult battle. According to Real Clear Politics, six hypothetical match-ups were poll-tested on May 11: the Democrat won three times, the Republican won twice, and one was a tie.
The problem facing Republicans if Rubio does not change his mind is that the NRSC has to allocate resources to what could be over 20 very competitive senate races across the country. Persuading Rubio run for re-election, on the other hand, means one less senate race that they could lose, and more money to spend on other candidates.
“If you can take that [senate race] off the table with one candidate, you do it,” an aide to McConnell told The Post.
What do you think? Should Marco Rubio change his mind, and run for re-election? Or, was he right to retire after just one term in the U.S. Senate?
[Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images]