In a surprising reversal from previous declarations he was retiring after serving one term in the U.S. Senate, Florida Republican Marco Rubio announced Wednesday morning he will run for reelection.
Mr. Rubio first revealed he had no intention of retaining one of Florida’s upper-chamber seats in April 2015 after announcing his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination.
“In politics, admitting you’ve changed your mind is not something most people like to do. But here it goes. I have decided to seek re-election to the United States Senate. I understand my opponents will try to use this decision to score political points against me. Have at it. Because I have never claimed to be perfect, or to have all the answers,” Rubio stated when notifying the media of his Senate candidacy.
Mr. Rubio suspended his presidential campaign in March after losing the Florida primary to New York businessman Donald Trump and again ruled out a Senate reelection bid or running for another political office.
However, pressure from GOP leadership may have inspired Rubio to re-evaluate his position: With the Senate likely to flip to Democrats in November, key GOP leaders had both publicly and privately encouraged Florida’s junior senator to carefully weigh his options
Speculation intensified Rubio would reconsider in recent weeks. In a mid-June radio interview, Rubio told host Hugh Hewitt the Orlando massacre had impelled him to re-appraise his political future.
The tipping point came last week when Rep. David Jolly (R-FL) withdrew from the Republican Senate primary race, removing one formidable obstacle to Rubio’s return.
Despite a crowded GOP primary field, Rubio remains popular and polls indicate he is the only Republican who can overcome Democratic challengers, Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson.
Recent surveys in the Sunshine State reveal in head-to-head competition, Rubio bests Murphy 47 percent to 40 percent and beats Grayson 48 percent to 40 percent.