Pressure on Marco Rubio to change his mind and run for re-election

After dropping out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Florida senator Marco Rubio announced that he was not running for re-election, nor was he interested in running for governor in 2018.

But developments since his announcement have GOP leaders in Florida and nationally urging Rubio to change his mind and run.

Currently, Republicans are facing the prospect of losing the Senate unless they can hang on to three seats: Portman in Ohio, Johnson in Wisconsin, and the open seat in Florida.  In Wisconsin and Ohio, GOP incumbents are fighting for their political lives, while Democrats in Florida believe they have the upper hand against a crowded GOP field.

But a Rubio change of heart would completely alter the dynamic of the GOP primary race, if not the general election contest.

CNN:

The crowded field of candidates includes Reps. David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, businessman Carlos Beruff, entrepreneur Todd Wilcox and Lopez-Cantera. But all of the candidates have their vulnerabilities, plus there are fears that they won't be able to raise the kind of cash necessary to run a viable campaign in one of the most expensive states in the country.

"It's the Republican nightmare nobody wants to talk about," said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Everyone knew it would be next to impossible to replace Marco Rubio, but I don't think anyone appreciated how steep that drop-off actually is in Florida."

Republicans believe that the candidate favored by the Democratic establishment, Rep. Patrick Murphy, is flawed and can be beaten -- especially as Murphy himself is locked in a bitter primary fight with progressive firebrand Alan Grayson.

But with 24 GOP Senate seats to defend, including several in swing states, some are worried that the Florida Republican candidates' underwhelming performance so far could mean that the party would have to drain precious resources into the Sunshine State to save their endangered majority. A Rubio candidacy could presumably prevent that.

Trump -- who earlier in the day clinched the delegates necessary to capture the Republican presidential nomination -- urged Rubio to run in a tweet Thursday night.

"Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!" Trump said.

Wicker said the party committee is staying out of the primary and does not have a favored candidate in the race.

But, Wicker added, "It's going to be an expensive seat."

Rubio decided against running for re-election in order to make a bid for the White House, an effort that he dropped when he lost Florida to Trump in mid-March.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said that the senator was not reconsidering running for re-election, pointing to Rubio's repeated statements that he'll be a "private citizen" in January.

Rubio's decision is complicated by his friendship with Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera, who is showing well in the polls but trails Rep. David Jolly.  Lopez-Cantera is another attractive young politician in Florida.  Most observers think Lopez-Cantera would have to drop out ahead of the June 24 filing deadline for Rubio to seriously entertain a bid for re-election.

Rubio, if he enters the race, may do well in the GOP primary, but what about the general election?  He lost the Florida presidential primary badly, and his approval ratings from Florida voters have been dismal.  He is certainly no guarantee that the GOP would keep his seat in November.  But he may give them a better chance to do so than any other Republican in the primary race.

After dropping out of the race for the GOP presidential nomination, Florida senator Marco Rubio announced that he was not running for re-election, nor was he interested in running for governor in 2018.

But developments since his announcement have GOP leaders in Florida and nationally urging Rubio to change his mind and run.

Currently, Republicans are facing the prospect of losing the Senate unless they can hang on to three seats: Portman in Ohio, Johnson in Wisconsin, and the open seat in Florida.  In Wisconsin and Ohio, GOP incumbents are fighting for their political lives, while Democrats in Florida believe they have the upper hand against a crowded GOP field.

But a Rubio change of heart would completely alter the dynamic of the GOP primary race, if not the general election contest.

CNN:

The crowded field of candidates includes Reps. David Jolly and Ron DeSantis, businessman Carlos Beruff, entrepreneur Todd Wilcox and Lopez-Cantera. But all of the candidates have their vulnerabilities, plus there are fears that they won't be able to raise the kind of cash necessary to run a viable campaign in one of the most expensive states in the country.

"It's the Republican nightmare nobody wants to talk about," said Josh Holmes, a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. "Everyone knew it would be next to impossible to replace Marco Rubio, but I don't think anyone appreciated how steep that drop-off actually is in Florida."

Republicans believe that the candidate favored by the Democratic establishment, Rep. Patrick Murphy, is flawed and can be beaten -- especially as Murphy himself is locked in a bitter primary fight with progressive firebrand Alan Grayson.

But with 24 GOP Senate seats to defend, including several in swing states, some are worried that the Florida Republican candidates' underwhelming performance so far could mean that the party would have to drain precious resources into the Sunshine State to save their endangered majority. A Rubio candidacy could presumably prevent that.

Trump -- who earlier in the day clinched the delegates necessary to capture the Republican presidential nomination -- urged Rubio to run in a tweet Thursday night.

"Poll data shows that @marcorubio does by far the best in holding onto his Senate seat in Florida. Important to keep the MAJORITY. Run Marco!" Trump said.

Wicker said the party committee is staying out of the primary and does not have a favored candidate in the race.

But, Wicker added, "It's going to be an expensive seat."

Rubio decided against running for re-election in order to make a bid for the White House, an effort that he dropped when he lost Florida to Trump in mid-March.

Rubio spokesman Alex Burgos said that the senator was not reconsidering running for re-election, pointing to Rubio's repeated statements that he'll be a "private citizen" in January.

Rubio's decision is complicated by his friendship with Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera, who is showing well in the polls but trails Rep. David Jolly.  Lopez-Cantera is another attractive young politician in Florida.  Most observers think Lopez-Cantera would have to drop out ahead of the June 24 filing deadline for Rubio to seriously entertain a bid for re-election.

Rubio, if he enters the race, may do well in the GOP primary, but what about the general election?  He lost the Florida presidential primary badly, and his approval ratings from Florida voters have been dismal.  He is certainly no guarantee that the GOP would keep his seat in November.  But he may give them a better chance to do so than any other Republican in the primary race.