The Rubio Vs. Murphy is a statewide battle with a national impact
It can be a little difficult to keep with Marco Rubio’s ambitions, but I think we have a bead on it now. He is running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat from Florida, although, if elected, he hasn’t promised that he will serve the full six-year term.
More on that later.
Rubio’s commitment to the job is at the heart of his battle with Democrat Patrick Murphy. He has unloaded a barrage of attack ads against Rubio, citing his poor attendance record during his term – a strategy that seems sound after Rubio practically had to be begged by his party to even get in the race.
Polls show a close race. Politico.com reported on an internal Murphy poll that showed him trailing Rubio by only two points – within the 3.5 percent margin of error.
It’s a strange development for Rubio, no doubt. He was first elected to the senate in 2010, essentially doubling the combined vote totals of challengers Charlie Crist, who ran as an independent, and Democrat Kendrick Meek.
Rubio, however, quickly grew disillusioned with the senate’s cumbersome rules and parliamentary procedures. By April 2015, Rubio said he had enough of all that and announced he was running for president.
“I don’t know that ‘hate’ is the right word,” Rubio said when asked if he hated his senate job. “I’m frustrated.”
With his GQ cover boy looks and a compelling personal narrative – the son of Cuban immigrants – Rubio had all the elements many Republicans were looking for to take back the White House.
All except one. It was an important element, too.
He wasn’t ready for the job. That got quickly exposed on the campaign trail during the debates, and he dropped out after being slaughtered by Donald Trump in the Florida primary. He said he was done with the senate, done with politics for a while.
But, here he is anyway.
The fact this race is close no doubt goes back to Rubio’s questionable dedication to doing the job to which he was elected. And when asked directly in late August on CNN if he will commit to serving his full term if elected, Rubio responded, “No one can make that commitment because you don’t know what the future’s gonna hold in your life personally or politically.”
It was widely interpreted as a thinly disguised admission that he will run for president again in 2020, thus making his senate seat just a place-holder until he gets what he really wants.
With all that baggage, the fact he is leading at all is a little surprising. He has no doubt been helped by the fact Murphy has credibility issues of his own. Attack ads point to his exaggerated resume and other problems, painting him as “Phony Patrick Murphy” and a “Fabulously Phony Failure.”
There is a lot riding on which of these two candidates Floridians decide to trust. If it’s Rubio, it could help Republicans keep control of the senate. He also is popular with Hispanics and that could attract enough votes for Trump in his battle with Hillary Clinton over Florida’s 29 electoral votes.
None of this likely would be in play if Rubio simply had done the job he was elected to do. Now he is asking for the same job with no promise that he even gives two hoots about doing it this time, either.
Oh, whatever. It’s only the United State Senate. Why would anyone want that job when keeping everyone guessing is a lot more fun?