WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) — Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump encouraged former rival Sen. Marco Rubio to abandon plans to retire from the Senate after one term and jump back into the race to keep his seat.
Trump’s tweet encouraging him, “Run Marco!” is the latest in a string of high profile Republicans urging Rubio to reconsider life in the private sector, as he’s said he prefers after his term expires this year.
Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, according to Politico, polled the GOP caucus in a closed-door meeting, asking Rubio’s colleagues if they wanted to see him run for re-election. Every hand in the room was raised to say “yes.”
The race to replace Rubio has failed to garner a top-tier Republican candidate. Instead, five Republicans are vying for their party’s nomination, each running as a niche candidate, appealing to one faction of the party’s base, but without the funding or name recognition to ensure victory in November.
Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Rep. David Jolly, Rep. Ron DeSantis and businessmen Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox are running on the Republican side. Two Democratic congressmen, Alan Grayson and Patrick Murphy, are vying for their party’s nomination.
Rubio said it was “unlikely” he would change his mind and run for re-election. Florida’s filing deadline to enter the race is June 24, the final cutoff if a candidate wants to have his name appear on the primary ballot.
Rubio decided to abandon re-election when he decided to run for president. His early departure from the race leaves enough time, given Florida’s late filing deadline, to change his mind, but Politico reports there are some practical problems he would face.
After tapping every conceivable fundraising source for his presidential campaign, Rubio could face donors who are not ready to start writing checks for another Rubio campaign. Also, the entire Florida donor base for the GOP has been sapped after Jeb Bush’s huge fundraising push for his failed presidential campaign.
Also, while Rubio is a household name versus five candidates still struggling to break through in the GOP primary, Democratic turnout in a general election is likely to be much higher than it was when Rubio was elected six years ago, in a non-presidential election year. Republicans in Florida have typically fared much better in off-year elections when turnout is lower.
For now, Rubio said he’s sticking by his decision.
“I didn’t think it was fair for me to run for president and freeze that seat in a competitive state. So, I made my decision,” Rubio told reporters on Thursday afternoon. “I don’t have anything new to say from what I said in the past. … I made that decision and I’ve lived by that decision. Nothing’s changed.”
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