Political Rookie And Trump Backer Could Give Rubio Trouble
WASHINGTON – Just last week Florida Sen. Marco Rubio announced that he would seek re-election after a long presidential primary battle that saw him finish third to Donald Trump. Now it seems with the August GOP primary coming fast it seems that his biggest challenge on paper, could be someone who looks lot like Donald Trump.
We know that there is no love lost between Rubio and the presumptive Republican 2016 presidential nominee. Now enter billionaire Carlos Beruff, who has endorsed Trump, he’s espoused some of the same controversial beliefs, and may even have the backing of Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
At this point it is not known if Trump would back Beruff in the race but that remains a possibility.
“The voters of Florida can reelect Washington’s candidate, who has consistently failed to do the job they hired him to do and won’t commit to serving a full six-year term. Or they can make a change,” Beruff said in press release that was sent out Friday.
“Do you want a Senator who puts politics and their own ambition first? Or do you want a Senator who puts Florida first?”
Beruff is a 58-year-old real estate developer who, like Rubio, is the son of Cuban refugees who settled in south Florida. He has been a major supporter of Republican politicians in Florida and is now making his maiden run for office as an outsider with a decidedly Trumpian bent.
The political neophyte, who lacks the name recognition or exposure of Trump, has embraced the very same outsider persona worn well on Trump, who plunged the final knife into a staggering Rubio during the Florida Republican presidential primary.
What could make Beruff more than an annoyance to Rubio is his willingness to self-finance, his embrace of outsider politics in the year of Donald Trump, and his connections to Florida’s Republican governor, Rick Scott, who rode an outsider message (and tens of millions of his own dollars) into statewide office.
Scott on Thursday declined to fall in line behind Rubio, announcing in a statement that Florida voters “deserve the opportunity to consider [Beruff’s] candidacy alongside Senator Rubio and make their own decision.” Also notable: The political team that helped Scott win two terms as governor are now in Beruff’s camp.
Rubio has also signaled he will distance himself from Trump — after losing the Florida presidential primary to him by nearly 20 percentage points — and Beruff suggested he would be able to take advantage of that divide.
“Florida voters, and voters nationally, have spoken as to who they think their candidate is, and anybody who wants to try to derail the representation of those voters is making a huge mistake,” Beruff said. “They are not going to succumb to the Washington politicians who are telling them who they are supposed to vote for — in the Senate race or in the presidential race, either one.”
Rubio is the clear favorite in this showdown but there is no doubt that Beruff will make the race very interesting.