Marco Rubio on Monday became the third Republican senator to announce a bid for president and the first of the group to leave behind a competitive seat. Rubio vacating his seat in Florida in favor of national ambition gives the GOP another potentially strong White House contender. But it presents new challenges for Senate Republicans pushing to hold their newly acquired majority by leaving an expensive open seat in a state at the heart of the presidential election.
Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, a prolific fundraiser from South Florida, is the front-runner for the Democratic nomination… Republicans have turned their sights to the congressional delegation, particularly Tom Rooney, a four-term Republican from central Florida. Rooney, who told CQ Roll Call two weeks ago the race wasn’t even on his radar, said in a Monday phone interview he now believes he can win the open seat and has a meeting scheduled at the National Republican Senatorial Committee Thursday.
“We could screw this up,” Rooney told CQ Roll Call. “There is a very clear scenario where Patrick Murphy, who is a moderate Democrat, is going to inherit a bloodied Republican nominee who is not going to be able to get their act together to beat him.”
Democrats could have a primary on their hands, as well. While Murphy is the favorite of national Democrats, Rep. Alan Grayson, a liberal firebrand, is also considering a bid. Grayson, who recently annulled his marriage of 25 years after a public court battle, has the ability to self-fund his campaign.
Democrats, who must net five seats to ensure a majority, were already targeting the seat. President Barack Obama carried the state by razor-thin margins in 2008 and 2012, and having Hillary Rodham Clinton at the top of the ticket looks at this point like a positive for Senate Democrats.
Rubio’s incumbency and fundraising capabilities made him a slight favorite for re-election. But as an open seat, the race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
A disgraceful move that tells us all we need to know about Rubio, who has next to no chance to win the nomination. There are too many skeletons in his closet, and his self-aggrandizing antics with the Gang of Eight on immigration indicate he is basically a single-issue candidate. We’ve already seen how much narcissistic damage a one-term senator with delusions of grandeur can do.
The GOP’s continuing inability to think strategically could cost it dearly next year.