Tags: Trump Administration | Marco Rubio | Senate | Florida | vacancy

With Favorite Out, Rubio Senate Seat Seen Up for Grabs

Image: With Favorite Out, Rubio Senate Seat Seen Up for Grabs
(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 14 Apr 2015 12:33 PM

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is officially in the race for the White House, leaving a vacancy for his Senate seat that currently looks like it's up for grabs.

Republican CFO Jeff Atwater was seen as the favorite to replace Rubio, having won two statewide campaigns, but on Saturday he abruptly announced in a Facebook post that he was taking his name out of consideration.

"Over the past weeks I have received a tremendous amount of encouragement to consider a run for the United States Senate in 2016," Atwater wrote. "While I have certainly taken these words of support under consideration, I will not be a candidate in 2016. I remain committed to only one endeavor and that is to be the best CFO I can be for the people of Florida."

"The race has changed dramatically," Adam Goodman, a Republican media consultant in Florida, told Roll Call. "There was an emerging consensus that Atwater was certainly, if nothing else, going to be given the first full shot to close out the field and move ahead with the nomination. So everyone had to wake up to the realization that suddenly the world had changed."

With Atwater out of the race, the three likeliest candidates to make a bid for the seat are GOP Rep. Ron DeSantis, GOP Rep. Tom Rooney, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Politico reported.

DeSantis is expected to be the first to announce that he will make a bid, Breitbart reported. Politico reported that the 36-year-old already has $1 million cash-on-hand in his congressional account that could be used to jump-start a Senate race.

"Marco Rubio has done a great job in the U.S. Senate. His 2010 campaign inspired me to consider running for office, and I have no doubt that he will make a compelling candidate on the national stage. 

"As it became clear that Senator Rubio was likely to run for president, I received encouragement to consider running for the Senate. Casey and I will use the next several weeks to discuss the race with our friends and supporters and will make a decision in short order," DeSantis said in a statement Tuesday.

Rooney told Roll Call that throwing his hat into the ring is "something that I'm taking very seriously, and I'm talking to a lot of people." He has noted, however, that he has concerns about the effect a statewide race could have on his wife and three sons, ages 13, 11, and 8.

Rooney told Roll Call that he has a meeting scheduled with the National Republican Senatorial Committee on Thursday. Rooney hails from a well-connected wealthy family which owns the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

"Whenever I polled the Rooney name in the state, I've found Florida voters have an affinity for the Rooney family," Atwater adviser Randy Nielsen told Politico.

Lopez-Cantera has also been talking with potential supporters and elected officials about the prospect of running.  He is a close friend of Rubio.

Former state House Speaker Will Weatherford is also being touted as a possibility, and Rubio had mentioned Weatherford as a potential successor at a breakfast with reporters in January, Roll Call reported.

The race could, however, be an opportunity for Democrats to pick up a seat as the party has a history of doing better in Florida during presidential years, The Associated Press reported.

President Barack Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012, but Republicans won the governor's race and most other statewide races in 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 and 2014, AP pointed out.

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is officially in the race for the White House, leaving a vacancy for his Senate seat that currently looks like it's up for grabs.
Marco Rubio, Senate, Florida, vacancy
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2015-33-14
Tuesday, 14 Apr 2015 12:33 PM
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