“Run, Marco, run” was a cheer that resonated, as state and national Republican leaders called on Marco Rubio to reverse his retirement from the Senate and declare for re-election before Florida’s filing deadline June 24.
Along with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who encouraged his GOP colleagues to convince Rubio to run again, Donald Trump urged a Senate re-election bid.
But it is just not going to happen, friends of Rubio and key Republican operatives in the Sunshine State told me. They insist Rubio, 44, will stick to the intentions he announced last year that he had no plan B to drop down to a re-election bid if his White House campaign faltered.
“No — he’s going to private law practice,” former Lee County Republican Chairman Gary Lee said in response to a question about Rubio making a last ditch re-election bid. Lee, who was the first of his party’s county chairman to endorse Rubio in the contested U.S. Senate primary in 2010, added that it was “out of the question” the senator would change course and run three weeks before the filing deadline.
Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera are considered the leading candidates in the crowded GOP primary for Rubio’s seat. Lopez-Cantera is a close friend of Rubio’s and has the backing of the senator and his organization.
According to a just-completed News Bay 13/News 9 poll, more than half of likely Republican primary voters have no favorite in the Senate primary.
Jolly has said he would bow out if Rubio ran again. But DeSantis and Lopez-Cantera and their campaign teams see things differently.
“I know everyone wants to play this [Rubio running again] out, but there’s no there,” Lopez-Cantera consultant Rick Wilson told me. “Marco was on a high-dollar conference call with Carlos. He reiterated on the call that he was not getting back in and that Carlos was the one Republican who could hold the seat.”
DeSantis told me that “Marco and I spoke before I announced and he made it clear that he meant what he was saying in public. He’s won’t get back in.”
Even if he were to reverse his announced intentions and run again, Rubio himself may have difficulty winning re-election. According to a just-completed Quinnipiac Poll of likely voters statewide, 42 percent approve of Rubio’s performance and 49 percent disapprove—the first time negative opinion of him was higher than positive opinion since he was elected to the Senate in 2010.
More than a few observers felt that Rubio’s brief and unsuccessful presidential bid may have taken a toll on him back home. Shortly after he entered the race and got high marks for his performance in the first televised debate in August of last year, Rubio scored 57 percent approval rating and 36 percent disapproval, according to Quinnipiac.
So it appears as though Marco Rubio’s reply to a question from Newsmax in January of 2015 about his plans for 2016 will hold up: “"If I make that decision [to run for president], it will not be with the intention of looking for a 'plan B' if it doesn’t work out. That is not my intention at all.”
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
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