Less than 24 hours after Florida senator Marco Rubio announced his withdrawal from the Republican presidential race, Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina — who had endorsed Rubio in February — casually told reporters in the state’s capital city of Columbia that she is now supporting Ted Cruz.
“My hope and prayer is that Senator Cruz can pull through this and that he can push through and really get to where he needs to go,” Haley said after praising Rubio for his campaign efforts. “Because we do want a strong leader, we do want somebody that’s conservative, we do want somebody that’s action-minded.”
Rubio was considered the establishment favorite after public support for Jeb Bush waned in the fall of 2015, but Florida’s junior senator was ultimately unable to coalesce enough of the Republican base around his candidacy in a large field.
The results of the Florida GOP primary ended up being Sen. Rubio’s death knell on Tuesday, with Donald Trump awarded all 99 delegates in the winner-take-all state. Trump won the popular vote there by nearly half a million votes and 18 points over the second-place Rubio.
Some political commentators are now questioning the once-promising future of Mr. Rubio, who decided to forego re-election in the Senate to run for president. Rubio’s senate term expires in January 2017.
A career politician with a law degree, some in the media have speculated that the next logical professional move for Rubio would be to run for governor of Florida. If that is the case, he’ll have to wait awhile because current governor Rick Scott still has three full years left in his second term.
Rubio will not be able to run for Florida’s chief executive office until 2018.
[New York Times] [The Green Papers]