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I’m in Washington, D.C., where some of the political buzz centers around Florida Senator Marco Rubio and the “to be or not to be”/”will he or won’t he?” question of his future plans. Here’s Rubio’s dilemma: run for re-election in 2016, or run for the White House.
It’s an either/or question, as Rubio’s said repeatedly that he won’t go national while trying to hold on to his day job (something that Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan did in 2012 and that Kentucky Senator Rand Paul may attempt in 2016 — that is, if he can sell the idea back home).
Rubio’s second dilemma: he has to make up his mind soon, in order for Florida Republicans to get their act together should he vacate the Senate seat.
As Caitlin Huey-Burns explains in this Real Clear Politics piece:
Rubio would be one of the best-positioned senators for re-election, even with an open presidential race as a backdrop. That’s why many Republican campaign operatives hope he’ll stay put.
Regardless, the party is confident that if Rubio doesn’t run to keep his current seat, it has a handful of competent candidates ready to enter the fray. The state’s chief financial officer, Jeff Atwater, appears to be a strong contender if the opportunity arises. (He will be in Washington, D.C., next week, meeting with campaign strategists.) State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam is also considered a strong would-be candidate, along with Attorney General Pam Bondi and members of the state’s congressional delegation.
But then there’s the magnetic lure of the presidency. Which begs this question: is there room for Rubio in a crowded field — one that already includes a fellow Floridian (that would be Jeb Bush) at the front of the pack along with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.
But should Walker fall back to earth, would that provide an opening for Rubio to steal the mantle of non-Bush alternative? Or, given that Rubio has long been seen as something of a Jeb protege (a characterization the senator doesn’t seem to like), would the smarter strategy be to hope for a Bush meltdown?
Again, we turn to the writings of Ms. Burns:
Contenders have to stake their claim early on the crowded stage. There are several roles to be played in the GOP primary—the conservative favorite, the centrist, the candidate perceived as most electable, the outsider—but many of them are already cast, with understudies. And with a big-name Floridian already moving toward a run—a seasoned governor with an extensive financial and political network and the presidency in his blood—is there room for Rubio?
The young Republican Latino with a gift for oration is finding his window, positioning himself as the 21st century candidate, a fresh face that comes with ideas—ideas about economic mobility, foreign policy, and yes, even immigration.
So is there room for Rubio in this contest? Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight.com fame, thinks so. Here’s his rationale.
Stay tuned for Rubio’s Senate decision. Should he decide against the second term, it further complicates a Senate map that’s already working against the GOP — just as the 2014 Senate landscape appeared (and turned out to be) dreadful for Democrats.Published in