November 09, 2016

So much for Rubio 2020

via @learyreports

Marco Rubio’s easy victory, declared just after polls closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday, immediately raised the 2020 talk.

So how much more interesting are things now with President-elect Donald Trump?

Rubio was poised, along with a gaggle of other Republicans, to emerge as the face of the anti-Hillary Clinton movement that Trump was widely expected to fall short of carrying past Election Day. The bilingual Republican savior Rubio was staring at Act 2.

Now Rubio will have to once again navigate Trump, a man he deemed a con man, too dangerous to oversee the nation's nuclear codes, not enough aggressive toward Vladimir Putin.

Rubio has said he'll stand up to Trump, act as a check on his power. But for the time being, it seems implausible that he, or any other ambitious Republican, will dare to mess with the movement Trump built -- a movement that rejected establishment politicians.

At the same time, Rubio has a chance to legislate like never before. With the GOP controlling Washington, will he pursue his anti-abortion agenda? What about Cuba policy? His ideas for expanded child tax credits?

How interesting are things now?

--ALEX LEARY, Tampa Bay Times

Rubio's margin of victory: 716,833 votes



While some expected Florida's U.S. Senate race to be relatively close at the end, Florida voters were decisive in re-electing Republican Marco Rubio on Tuesday.

In complete but unofficial results, Rubio's margin of victory was 8 percentage points -- 716,833 votes, to be precise, out almost 9.3 million cast.

Rubio outperformed president-elect Donald Trump -- who took Florida by about 120,000 votes out of almost 9.4 million cast -- while Rubio's Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy underperformed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Rubio beat Murphy 52 percent to 44 percent, while Trump beat Clinton in Florida 49 percent to 48 percent.

MORE: Rubio returns to U.S. Senate

Murphy, a two-term congressman from Jupiter, won the majority of the vote in only nine of Florida's 67 counties -- most of them in reliably blue hotspots: Alachua, Gadsen, Leon, Orange, Osceola and St. Lucie counties, plus the Democratic stronghold of South Florida: Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach.

While Rubio, of West Miami, lost his home county to Murphy by 109,000 votes, Rubio easily won most of Florida's rural counties and two key metros: Tampa Bay and Jacksonville. In Florida bellwether Hillsborough County, Rubio won by just 2,900 votes, with stronger support in the surrounding counties. In Duval County, Rubio's advantage was more than 69,000 votes.

Murphy -- who will now exit Congress in January after representing the Treasure Coast and northern Palm Beach County for four years -- had a mixed bag in his moderate congressional district. (His redistricted seat went back in the red column Tuesday, won by Republican Brian Mast.)

He won in Palm Beach County by more than 61,000 votes and eked by in St. Lucie County with 3,300 more votes than Rubio. However, he lost Martin County to Rubio by more than 16,000 votes.

Polls had shown Rubio ahead in nearly all polls in the Senate race -- by various margins -- since he declared for re-election in June. Less than a handful had Murphy evenly tied with him.

Photo credit: Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

November 08, 2016

Marco Rubio easily keeps seat in U.S. Senate

2016 Election Senate Rubio

@JeremySWallace @KristenMClark @DavidOvalle305

Marco Rubio is headed back to the U.S. Senate with his prospects of another run for president intact.

Rubio defeated two-term Congressman Patrick Murphy, who couldn’t overcome poor name recognition or questions about embellishments on his résumé.

Tuesday’s outcome was not a surprise given Rubio never trailed in 47 consecutive public polls of the race since he jumped into the contest in June. Yet given that Rubio emphatically stated he would not run for re-election six months ago, the outcome was still improbable.

Rubio, flanked by his family, took the stage at his watch party shortly before 9 p.m. to the cheers of a raucous crowd inside a ballroom at Miami’s Airport Hilton

He said he talked to Murphy by phone. “He ran a great race.”

In his brief remarks, Rubio struck a optimistic tone, making no mention of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. He took a sharply different tact than Trump, his party’s standard bearer who campaigned with divisive rhetoric.

“America is going to be OK. We will turn this country around. I have faith. I know God is not done with America yet,” Rubio said, adding: “While we can disagree on issues, we cannot share a country where people hate each other because of their political affiliations. We cannot move forward as a nation if we can not have enlightened debates about tough issues."

More here.

Photo credit: Wilfredo Lee / AP

November 04, 2016

Outside money floods Rubio-Murphy race thanks to high court's Citizens United ruling

  Senate 2016 Rubio_Ordo (1)-082516

Individuals, corporations, advocacy groups and super-PACs from outside Florida are pumping money into the close Senate contest between incumbent Marco Rubio and challenger Patrick Murphy.

More than $48 million in independent expenditures, most of it from outside the Sunshine State, has been spent on the Rubio-Murphy race in which the Miami Republican has held about a 3 point lead in recent days, according to the polling average on

Only five other U.S. Senate campaigns -- in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina and Ohio -- have received more money from outside their campaigns.

Every state except Nevada features incumbent GOP senators who, like Rubio, are trying to fend off Democratic challengers. Nevada's race is for an open Senate seat vacated by the retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid.

Those six races will likely decide whether the Republican Party retains the Senate majority it gained in the November 2014 elections.

In addition to money contributed by outside groups, Rubio's campaign had raised $12.48 million through Oct. 19 while Murphy's campaign had raised $13.72 million, for a total of $26.2 million, according to the Federal Election Commission.

That figure combined with the independent expenditures puts an overall price tag of almost $75 million on the Rubio-Murphy Senate race.

In Florida's Senate race, outside groups have made 14 TV, media and digital ad buys totaling at least $1 million, all but one of them targeting Murphy.

The biggest buy was made by the Senate Leadership Fund on Oct. 27 for $3.16 million.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a spinoff of the American Crossroads super PAC started by former President George W. Bush senior adviser Karl Rove, has spent $81.7 million in the current election cycle.

Among all super PACs in the country, only the liberal Priorities USA Action and the conservative Right to Rise USA have spent more.

Other groups based outside Florida that have spent big against Murphy are the American Future Fund, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Republican Senate Committee and the National Rifle Association.

The only Florida-centric organization with significant expenditures opposing Murphy is the Florida First Project, a super PAC created in June on the day Rubio did an about-switch and announced he was running for Senate re-election after having declined during his earlier presidential bid.

So-called "super" political action committees are free to collect unlimited amounts of money as long as the donors' identities and the amounts of their contributions.

The flood of independent expenditures by super PACs has followed a landmark 2010 Supreme Court ruling, in a case brought by the conservative watchdog group Citizens United, that described such spending as expressions of free speech protected by the First Amendment.

However, direct contributions to political campaigns remain limited by campaign-finance law.

Photo credit: Wilfredo Lee, Associated Press










November 03, 2016

Rubio has still been teaching an FIU course, online


As he runs for reelection, Marco Rubio has continued to teach at Florida International University -- just not in person.

Rubio has co-taught an online fall course, according to the university and his campaign. The class, held for an hour a week on Wednesday evenings, is titled, "Topics in Politics -- the General Election."

"He participates live from home or on the campaign trail using a laptop," campaign spokeswoman Olivia Perez-Cubas said in a statement.

On Aug. 16, John F. Stack Jr., dean of the Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, sent Rubio a letter inviting him to work as a "visiting assistant scholar/science/engineer" for the three-credit class, which is co-taught by Dario Moreno and Sara Moats. The course enrolls more than 150 students. 

Rubio has taught on and off at FIU for years, particularly with Moreno, a Republican pollster. He's getting paid $8,000, according to Stack's letter, which the Miami Herald obtained from FIU through a public records request. That's based on an annual salary rate of $24,000. Rubio makes $174,000 a year as a U.S. senator.

Rubio had taken a break from teaching when he entered the Republican presidential primary. He's now seeking reelection, facing a challenge from Democrat Patrick Murphy.

"Marco's work at FIU has been well-documented, students (and even reporters) have been impressed with his lectures," Perez-Cubas said. "He is glad to be in a 21-st century classroom for FIU." 

It wasn't immediately clear how many classes Rubio has missed during the campaign  he must have skipped at least one: On Wednesday evening of last week, he was debating Murphy in Davie.

Photo credit: C.M. Guerrero, Miami Herald

November 02, 2016

Rubio campaigns with friends in Miami, away from Trump

SQA03 SoulFood News rk
via @jayhweaver

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio endorsed Donald Trump for president after bitterly losing to him in the Republican primary season. But he says has no intention of standing alongside him on the campaign trail in the potentially decisive battleground state of Florida.

Not even when Trump is blocks away from him, as was the case on Wednesday.

Rubio, the Miami Republican running for a second term in the Senate, joined black preachers, businessmen and others for a breakfast meeting at Jackson Soul Food in the historic Overtown neighborhood that lasted almost until noon. Meanwhile, Trump was holding a midday rally in Bayfront Park off Biscayne Boulevard.

“We're not doing presidential events,” Rubio declared after the meeting, when asked about appearing with Trump at Bayfront Park or at any time before Tuesday’s presidential election. “At this point, we're focused on our race. We have to be. It's no disrespect toward anyone. We really have to focus on our Senate race. We have a tough fight.... We're just not doing presidential events.”

And on that note, Rubio’s campaign aides whisked him out of the restaurant.

After the Republican primaries, including a drubbing to Trump in Florida, Rubio said he would still vote for Trump — even though he called him “a con artist,” “a serious threat to the future of . . . our country,” and an “erratic individual” who can't be trusted with the country’s nuclear codes. But Rubio has not appeared with Trump during the general election campaign.

More here.

Photo credit: Roberto Koltun, el Nuevo Herald

November 01, 2016

Rubio cuts TV ad in Spanish for Miami state rep


Marco Rubio's face pops up on the screen in a new Spanish-language TV ad airing in Miami. But the U.S. senator running for reelection isn't making a pitch for himself.

"I'd like to tell you about my friend Michael Bileca," Rubio says in the commercial.

This is Rubio, the big-name endorser, campaigning down-ballot for a Republican state representative who can't cut Spanish-language ads of his own.

"He is a man of integrity and good character," Rubio says of Bileca. "He's not a professional politician."

Bileca is seeking reelection to House District 115, which is majority Hispanic. He's won twice in spite of his lack of fluency in the language. His bilingual wife, Vivian, has starred in his radio and TV ads since his first campaign. She does so this year, too.

But now Bileca also has Rubio, whose ad is paid for by the Republican Party of Florida. Bileca faces a challenge from Democrat Jeffrey "Doc" Solomon.

October 31, 2016

The best political Halloween costume in West Miami?


When Halloween hits during early voting in a U.S. Senate race, the candidate's troops go to the polls in full force. Sometimes, they're even in costume.

Meet Brian Swensen, Marco Rubio's deputy campaign manager.

His costume Monday? Adult piggybacking on elephant.

Republicans. Elephants. Get it?

Swensen was hard at work ahead of Rubio's appearance to vote early at the West Miami Community Center. He rallied supporters, handed out campaign signs and sported a Rubio T-shirt himself.

The tiny legs over the GOP elephant, though, were appropriately spooky for All Hallows' Eve. No mask required.

Confident Rubio votes early for himself -- and, apparently, for Trump


After voting early Monday, Marco Rubio fielded questions about how he voted for president, for U.S. Senate, for Miami-Dade County mayor and for two Florida constitutional amendments.

Not once did he — or anyone else — utter the name of his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy. Which may explain why Rubio looked so relaxed about casting his ballot for his own reelection.

“We’ve had our own campaign,” the Florida Republican senator said. “I’m pretty confident that, irrespective of the presidential ballot, that’s going to help us win.”

Eight days before the election, Rubio leads Murphy by 5.6 percentage points in a Real Clear Politics polling average.

Still, Rubio encouraged supporters who came to cheer for him at the West Miami Community Center voting location to vote.

“It took me less than 10 minutes,” he said.

More here.

Mock website by Rubio trolls Murphy for withholding tax returns


Marco Rubio is doubling down on his call for his Democratic challenger, Patrick Murphy, to release his tax returns, and Rubio's campaign is amplifying that message with a mock website that trolls Murphy's decision to not release them.

Rubio's campaign launched on Monday morning. The site includes a "click here" link to purportedly guide visitors to Murphy's tax returns only to bump them to a series of "error" pages that insinuate Murphy could be hiding any number of things in his tax returns, such as "money made from business with Donald Trump."

The site features prominently a recently unearthed photo from 2007, which shows Murphy's father and the Republican presidential nominee at a groundbreaking for one of Trump's South Florida high-rises. Murphy insists his family's Coastal Construction Group never did direct business with Trump, but Coastal and Trump were both involved in two Trump-branded projects in South Florida.

MORE FROM POLITIFACT: "Patrick Murphy says his family never did business with Donald Trump, but it's more complicated"

Rubio's campaign argues that viewing Murphy's tax returns is now relevant because Murphy recently guaranteed a $1 million personal loan to his cash-strapped campaign, for which Murphy didn't have the cash assets to cover based on his financial disclosure.

Murphy told reporters in Tallahassee on Sunday that he sold stock from Coastal in order to pay for the loan; he had between $1 million and $5 million invested in the company, a "gift" from his father several years ago.

And Murphy again dismissed questions about why he won't release his tax returns, calling it something that "presidential candidates do" even though there's precedent from Florida's 2010 U.S. Senate race, Rubio's first Senate contest.

"Patrick Murphy’s decision to make a $1 million loan to his campaign is all the more reason why Florida voters deserve to see his tax returns," Rubio campaign spokesman Michael Ahrens said in a statement Monday. "Murphy says ‘democracy requires transparency’ and wants to force others to release their tax returns, but his refusal to be transparent with voters begs the question: What is Patrick Murphy hiding?"

Rubio already released summaries of his tax returns this year as part of his previous presidential campaign.

Murphy campaign spokeswoman Galia Slayen called the website "an odd attack for Marco Rubio, who enthusiastically endorses Donald Trump for President." Trump has famously bucked decades of tradition in refusing to release his tax returns this year.

"Marco Rubio’s attempt to distract from his Trump problem with a website is laughable," Slayen said.

Murphy co-sponsored legislation in June mandating major-party presidential candidates to release their tax returns. Murphy says he's been "very transparent" about his own finances because he files federally required financial disclosure forms every year.

Image credit: Marco Rubio campaign /

*This post has been updated with comment from Murphy's campaign.