Marco Rubio is spending this weekend pondering whether or not to run for a second term in the Senate. But despite his national prominence, if Rubio gets in the race, he won’t have an easy path to reelection.
Rubio came into office on the tea party wave in 2010 but he took less than 50 percent against a divided field with Charlie Crist running with no party affiliation and Kendrick Meek on the Democratic line. Crist pulled off some Republican support of course but his backing mostly came from outside the GOP. Regardless, Rubio won the three man race in a blowout.
When he ran for the Republican presidential nomination, Rubio ruled out running for a second term but now he’s contemplating getting back into the race. He has until Friday to make up his mind.
Certainly Rubio has support from the party leadership if he gets in. Republicans ranging from Donald Trump to Mitch McConnell to the NRSC leadership have urged Rubio to run. According to the Tampa Bay Times, political insiders make Rubio the favorite if he runs again but note his chances are better against Alan Grayson than Patrick Murphy.
But Rubio will have competition from the right if he gets in. Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox have no intention of getting out even as David Jolly heads to the sideline. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has already said he will drop if Rubio runs and, in fact, encouraged his friends to seek a second term. Ron DeSantis will have a hard time keeping the support of national conservative groups if Rubio gets in, especially if they fear GOP control of the Senate is at stake in Florida.
Both Beruff and Wilcox will have plenty of room to make credible bids against Rubio even if they will both slit each others’ throats, giving the incumbent room to win the primary at the end of August. As Trump’s big win over Rubio back in March shows, there are plenty of Republicans in Florida drawn to an outspoken outsider with private sector credentials: exactly how Beruff and Wilcox are presenting themselves. Still, there might not be enough oxygen for both Beruff and Wilcox to go against Rubio.
Even if Rubio goes on to win the primary, he’s not a slam dunk for another term. The Center for Politics rates the Florida race as a toss up, even if Rubio ends up with the Republican nod. Even the insiders surveyed by the Tampa Bay Times aren’t making Rubio a heavy favorite with 55 percent of them thinking he will win against Murphy but 45 percent like the Democrat’s chances.
Rubio rose to national prominence in 2010 by winning a three way race when the GOP was far more united than the Democrats. That’s been his only win in the electoral big leagues and, while it did garner him attention from conservatives across the nation, it didn’t help him when he jumped in the presidential race. While he has a few wins, from Minnesota to Puerto Rico, Rubio didn’t shine on the national stage especially when Chris Christie came out swinging in a debate right before the New Hampshire primary. Rubio’s pathetic showing in New Hampshire pretty much ended his chances even as he stayed in until Trump utterly routed him in Florida.
Still, there is talk about Rubio running for president in the future. A loss in November would end those plans but, if he stays on the sidelines, Rubio will be in danger of being eclipsed by other Republicans much like Mike Huckabee, Rick Perry and Rick Santorum were this time out. If he rolls the dice though, Rubio will find winning in 2016 will be a far more difficult assignment than he had six years ago.