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Tom Jackson: Seeking Florida voters’ forgiveness, Marco Rubio hits the reset button

That whooshing sound, like a battalion of leaf blowers set on high, is the hierarchy of the Republican Party responding to a rare moment of good news. Marco Rubio, who shouldn’t have been in such a hurry to leave in the first place, says he’s decided to seek re-election to the U.S. Senate.

The Washington Post, never missing an opportunity, highlights an irrelevancy: Rubio is going back on a pledge not to run. Really? That was so last March. Or April. Anyway, it was sufficiently long ago to have become antique in political ages. Situations change. Stuff happens.

Sometimes revoking a pledge is the most honorable course. Hey, the Continental Congress of 1776 assembled with the idea of reconciling with George III and England. So Rubio declared independence from his presidential candidate self. Maybe this will put him on the right side of history, too.

After all, Rubio’s reversal is precisely the course recommended by a FloridaPolitics.com contributor (*blush*) a little more than three weeks ago.

For a young man in a hurry, Rubio sure took his time on this one. Sort of makes you think there were some ridiculously lucrative private-sector suitors waiting in the wings.

However, Donald Trump notwithstanding, there is virtually no route to the White House from the private sector. And we have to believe, at 45, Rubio still aches for the prospect of getting his mail delivered to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

So it’s back to the campaign trail, where re-election to the Senate from the nation’s third-largest state would re-establish him as a Republican on the rise — especially if he commits to the work. But this time, the work will be everything.

The GOP presidential debates revealed to the nation a young senator with a granular understanding of what ails us and a grand, articulate vision of appealing center-right remedies. But Donald Trump happened. Now Rubio is demonstrating, also, adaptability.

Since his return to the Senate, he’s been entirely, well, senatorial. He’s been an energetic fixture on the floor, sometimes in opposition to GOP leadership, as in the case of his support to fully fund President Obama’s anti-Zika-virus plan. He swapped approving the new ambassador to Mexico, on which he’d put a hold, for continued sanctions against Venezuela’s socialist regime. And he’s up to his waders in Everglades cleanup legislation.

As he told POLITICO back in early May, “A couple times I’ve wondered, ‘Boy, if we had a couple more years, we could really get some stuff done.’”

Now he seems determined to give himself that chance.

Quinnipiac reports the race is Rubio’s to lose. In a poll released Wednesday, he leads the top Democratic candidates, Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, by 7 and 8 points, respectively. The same poll shows other Republican candidates losing handily.

Yes, June. Yes, the primaries haven’t happened, and Democrats haven’t coalesced. Yes, name recognition and all the rest. But 7 points ahead is a good starting place, allowing the Florida GOP to tout an alternate anchor near the top of the November ballot, and Republicans nationally to talk with seriousness about retaining their Senate majority against the excesses of whoever moves into the White House next January.

And, as described in my post urging him to seek re-election, staying in the Senate works to his long-term advantage. If he wins, it will require earning some forgiveness from Florida voters. And, because it bears constant reiteration, if, this time, he rewards their forgiveness by doing their work.

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Recovering sports columnist and former Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson argues on behalf of thoughtful conservative principles as our best path forward. Fan of the Beach Boys, pulled-pork barbecue and days misspent at golf, Tom lives in New Tampa with his wife, two children and two yappy middle-aged dogs.

Ted Cruz endorses Marco Rubio in his re-election bid

A one-time opponent is throwing his support behind Marco Rubio.

On Wednesday, Sen. Ted Cruz said he was “glad to support” Rubio in his re-election bid. Cruz, a Texas Republican, was one of more than a dozen Republicans who ran for president earlier this year.

“Marco Rubio a friend and has been an ally in many battles we have fought together in the Senate. I’m glad to support him in his bid for re-election,” he said in a Facebook post shortly after Rubio’s announcement. “Marco is a tremendous communicator and a powerful voice for the American Dream. At this time of great challenges, we very much need strong leaders in the Senate who will fight to restore economic growth, to defend our constitutional liberties, and to ensure a strong national security for our nation.”

According to Elaina Plott with the Washingtonian, Rubio reached out to Cruz to confirm he intended to run. The Washingtonian reported that Rubio asked Cruz to send out a statement urging the Miami Republican to run for re-election, but Cruz declined because he didn’t want to be seen as pushing Rep. Ron DeSantis out of the race.

DeSantis has not said publicly what he plans to do, but many expect him to end his Senate bid and run for the House.

Rubio announced Wednesday he was planning to run for re-election, reversing a previous commitment to return home at the end of his term in January.

While Rubio said he made the decision at home with his family, not in Washington, he did have the support of several top Republicans.

Rubio also appeared to get support from Ohio Republican Gov. John Kasich, another one-time presidential opponent. In a tweet Wednesday, Kasich said “keeping (Rubio) serving in the Senate is good news for the people of FL & our entire nation. Good luck, Marco!”

Reversing course, Marco Rubio announces he will seek re-election

It’s official: Marco Rubio is running for re-election.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he planned to run again in 2016. The announcement came after weeks of speculation about whether Rubio would seek another term in the U.S. Senate. The decision reverses a pledge to return to private life when his term was over in January.

“In politics, admitting you’ve changed your mind is not something most people like to do. But here it goes,” said Rubio in a statement. “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 announced in 2015 he was running for the presidency. While he was considered by many to be a top contender, his presidential campaign failed to gain steam. He suspended his campaign in March, following a poor showing in the Florida primary.

Rubio received 27 percent of the vote, coming in second behind Republican Donald Trump. Trump won nearly 46 percent of the vote, coming out on top in most of the state’s 67 counties.

In his announcement Wednesday, Rubio said: “no matter who is elected president, there is reason for worry.”

“With Hillary Clinton, we would have four more years of the same failed economic policies that have left us with a stagnant economy. We would have four more years of the same failed foreign policy that has allowed radical Islam to spread, and terrorists to be released from Guantánamo,” he said. “And even worse, if Clinton were president and her party took control of Congress, she would govern without Congressional oversight or limit. It would be a repeat of the early years of the current administration, when we got Obamacare, the failed stimulus, and a record debt.”

Rubio said the prospect of a “Trump presidency is also worrisome.”

“It is no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald Trump. His positions on many key issues are still unknown. And some of his statements, especially about women and minorities, I find not just offensive but unacceptable,” said Rubio. “If he is elected, we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both.”

Political observers have long said the state’s Senate race will be one to watch, and Republicans have said it could be key to keeping control of the Senate. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning found Rubio was the best bet for Republicans in a general election matchup.

The survey found Rubio would defeat Democrat Patrick Murphy 47 percent to 40 percent. In a hypothetical matchup between Rubio and Democrat Alan Grayson, Rubio would receive 48 percent of the vote to Grayson’s 40 percent.

Rubio said Wednesday the Senate is a place “from which you can perform great services for the people you have the honor of representing.” He also called the Senate a place “from which great policy advances can be made.”

“But as we begin the next chapter in the history of our nation, there’s another role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president,” he said. “Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida. That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

Rubio’s decision, which comes just two days before the end of the qualifying period, has already had an impact on the Republican field. Five Republicans had initially thrown their hat in the race to replace Rubio, but that number is quickly dwindling.

Rep. David Jolly announced last week that he was dropping his Senate bid, choosing to run for re-election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Rep. Ron DeSantis is also expected to end his Senate bid.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a longtime friend of Rubio’s and a Senate candidate, said he encouraged Rubio to reconsider his decision. Lopez-Cantera said he would not file to run if Rubio decided to get in the race, and on Wednesday made it official.

“As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful yet difficult decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, as I previously stated, I will not file as a candidate in this U.S. Senate race, continuing my service as Florida’s lieutenant governor with Governor Scott focusing on Florida.”

Republicans Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff both said they plan to stay in the race, regardless of Rubio’s decision. In a statement Wednesday, Beruff said he is “not going to back down from the Washington establishment.”

“This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them,” said Beruff. “Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Wilcox said he decided to run “because of the complete failure on the part of our elected civilian leadership to solve the problems we face as a nation.”

“I am tired of going into the voting booth and holding my nose to vote for the least-worst candidate on the ballot.  We need to elect serious leaders that understand our enemies and our economy,” said Wilcox. “I have 27 years of real world experience in national security and the economy, experience that is desperately needed in Washington now more than ever. None of that has changed based on yet another career politician entering this race.”

Rubio has already received the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The organization swiftly issued a statement saying Rubio will have its full support.

“Marco Rubio is a valued leader for Florida and for our country, and I welcome his decision to ask voters for the opportunity to serve once again,” said Sen. Roger F. Wicker, the chair of the NRSC. “Senator Rubio has made a lasting impact when it comes to standing up against the failed Obama agenda and has articulated a clear vision for making our country safer and more prosperous. His campaign will have the full support of the NRSC.”

The decision to run for re-election means Rubio will have to spend the next few weeks campaigning across the state.

The Republican primary is Aug. 30, but vote-by-mail ballots will be sent to military and overseas voters on July 16. Elections officials will begin sending vote-by-mail ballots to domestic voters beginning July 26.

While Rubio may be the most well-known candidate in the race, he could face some challenges. According to the Quinnipiac University poll released this week, 45 percent of Floridians said they approve of the job he is doing in the U.S. Senate; while 44 percent said they disapproved.

Rubio said he made the decision after discussing it with his wife and their four children while in West Miami for Father’s Day.

“There was one path that was more personally comfortable and probably smarter politically. But after much thought and prayer, together we chose to continue with public service; to continue down the path that provides the opportunity to make a positive difference at this critical and uncertain time for our nation,” he said. “In the end, there was simply too much at stake for any other choice.”

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Reporter Scott Powers contributed to this report.

Why Im Running - Marco Rubio for US Senate EDIT

In new ad, Carlos Beruff says ‘we are all simply Americans’

Carlos Beruff is out with a new campaign advertisement, calling on Floridians to reject what he calls a hyphenated county.

The release of the 30-second spot, called “Simply American,” comes as Marco Rubio prepares to announce whether he will run for re-election.

In his new ad, an announcer is heard saying: “Ever get tired of all these hyphens? Separating American with all these divisions. America is strongest when we are united.”

“We all owe America; it’s not the other way around. Some call me a Cuban-hyphen-American. I reject that. I don’t believe in hyphenated Americans,” Beruff is then heard saying. “We are all simply Americans. Let’s put America first. I’m Carlos Beruff. I approve this message, with no hyphen.”

Beruff is one of five Republicans currently running for the U.S. Senate. But political insiders widely expect to see a shift in the race in the coming days, as Rubio decides whether to run again.

Rep. David Jolly is set to hold a news conference this afternoon to announce his plans. Many expect him to drop out of the U.S. Senate race and run for re-election against Democrat Charlie Crist.

Rubio’s longtime friend Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has already said he would bow out if Rubio gets in. He even told supporters this week he encouraged Rubio to reconsider. Rep. Ron DeSantis may also be forced to consider his options if Rubio enters.

Rubio is expected to talk with his family over the weekend about whether he should run for re-election.

Beruff has said he would stay in the race even if Rubio gets in. So has Republican Todd Wilcox.

The qualifying deadline is noon on June 24.

Carlos Lopez-Cantera won’t file to run for Senate if Marco Rubio decides to run again

Carlos Lopez-Cantera will not file to run for U.S. Senate if Marco Rubio decides to run for re-election.

In an email to supporters Wednesday, Lopez-Cantera said he will get out of the race if Rubio, his longtime friend, were to decide to run for re-election.

“I have asked Sen. Marco Rubio to reconsider his decision and enter the Senate race. The decision is his and his alone to make,” said Lopez-Cantera in his email. “As friends for 20 years, this race is so much bigger than the two of us, and, as you have heard me say on the trail, this race isn’t about an individual, this race is about Florida and the future of our country.”

On Wednesday, Marc Caputo with POLITICO Florida first reported Lopez-Cantera encouraged Rubio to reconsider his decision.

In an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt earlier this week, Rubio appeared to crack the door open to the possibility of another run. He said the mass shooting in Orlando, which left 49 people dead and more than 50 people injured, gives him “pause to think a little bit about … your service to our country and then where you can be most useful to your country.”

Rubio has also pointed to Lopez-Cantera and his decision to run as a reason for why he wasn’t considering jumping back into the race.

In his message to supporters Wednesday, Lopez-Cantera said he is “still in this race and nothing has changed.”

“However,” he continued, “if Marco decides to enter this race, I will not be filing the paperwork to run for the U.S. Senate.”

According to the Washington Post, Rubio told reporters he was rethinking his decision.

Rubio has until noon on June 24 to qualify for the U.S. Senate race.

Patrick Murphy asks when will Florida’s U.S. Senate candidates un-endorse Donald Trump

Patrick Murphy asks a simple question of the Florida Republicans running for U.S. Senate: Will they jump on the bandwagon and start un-endorsing Donald Trump?

Last week, the presumptive GOP nominee outraged both sides of the political aisle when he blasted federal Judge Gonzalo Curiel, questioning his Mexican ancestry for decisions in the Trump University lawsuits.

As a result, support for Trump – including that of House Speaker Paul Ryan – is beginning to show signs of strain.

In an email Thursday morning, Murphy wonders if his Republican counterparts would even contemplate backing away from Trump after those comments he made that many people – both Republicans and Democrats – considered racist.

Where do the “brave” Florida Republican Senate candidates stand, Murphy asks. “They are either timidly standing by or silently enabling Trump’s racism, and Florida voters deserve better.”

At least one Trump supporter – Republican Sen. Mark Kirk – has backed away from his earlier endorsement, saying Trump “does not have the temperament” to be president.

“It is time for Florida Republicans to take a cue [from Kirk] and un-endorse Donald Trump and his racist rhetoric,” said Murphy Campaign Communications Director Joshua Karp. “Donald Trump has the wrong priorities for our state and the GOP Senate candidates should do what’s right and stand with Florida’s diverse families. As Patrick has already said, ‘enough is enough.’”

 

Carlos Beruff’s plan to reform Washington includes term limits, lobbying bans

Carlos Beruff has a plan to reform Washington.

On Wednesday, Beruff released a 10-point proposal he says will “end government greed.” The proposal includes instituting a lifetime ban on federal lawmakers from becoming lobbyists; tying congressional pay to the percentage of votes cast or missed; and repealing automatic pay raises for members of Congress.

“Our representatives don’t represent us anymore. Politics has become an industry and our elected officials have become career politicians instead of public servants,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “The result is a government that’s too big, too corrupt and too greedy. We need to change the culture in Washington. We need leaders who are citizen legislators and who believe in public service above all else.”

One way to reform the system, Beruff said, is by enacting term limits. In his proposal, Beruff said he believes term limits — 12 years for a member of the Senate and 8 years for a member of the House — should be in place for members of Congress.

“Our presidents are limited to two terms, and 36 states have term limits on their governors, including Florida,” states his plan. “It is crazy not to hold Congress to the same standard.”

Another part of the proposal would be to institute a policy where members of Congress, the president and the cabinet are not paid if they cannot “produce and enact a budget.”

“If Congress fails to meet the deadlines needed, its pay and travel allowances should be immediately revoked,” states the plan. “Likewise, if the president does not submit a budget by the deadline in the law, as President Obama has refused to do for seven years, then the president and members of the executive branch should have their pay withheld, and their travel allowances withheld.”

Also proposed: Reducing the federal government’s civilian workforce by 20 percent; requiring a supermajority to pass tax increases; passing a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and ending the practice of “catch-all’ spending bills.

“Some of these reforms may be controversial and you can bet that the political class in Washington will say that they’re extreme or unrealistic,” said Beruff in a statement. “But the people of Florida know that we need bold ideas and real change in Washington, not more of the same. Put simply, we need to bring accountability to government. These 10 steps will do that.”

Beruff faces Ron DeSantis, David Jolly, Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox in the Aug. 30 Republican primary. All five men are vying to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

Palm Beach Atlantic University to host GOP Senate debate

Get ready for a Republican Senate debate.

On Wednesday, Palm Beach Atlantic University announced it planned to host a televised GOP debate on Aug. 23. The debate — which is being organized by the LeMieux Center for Public Policy and the Palm Beach County Young Republicans — comes just one week before the primary.

“The importance of this debate is to give Floridians an opportunity to get to know the candidates and where they stand on the issues, and what better place than right here at Palm Beach Atlantic University, where leadership and service are the core of its mission,” said former Sen. George LeMieux in a statement.

The debate will be held at the Rubin Arena at the Greene Complex for Sports and Recreation at Palm Beach Atlantic University. WPEC-CBS 12 will televise the debate, as well as other broadcasters across the state.

“We are proud to bring this debate to viewers across the state, on-air and online, so voters can make an informed decision in the primary,” said Michael Pumo, the general manager of WPEC.

Five Republicans — Ron DeSantis, David Jolly, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox — are vying to replace Marco Rubio in the U.S. Senate.

In a statement Wednesday, a spokesman for the Beruff campaign said it was reviewing invites as they come in, but hasn’t “committed to that event as of yet.” Spokesmen for Jolly and Wilcox said both men plan to attend the debate.

In a statement, a spokesman for DeSantis said the campaign has not “confirmed participation in any debates yet,” but the campaign looks “forward to Floridians learning about Ron DeSantis’s proven conservative record.”

All five candidates are expected to appear together at a forum in Boca Raton on Thursday.

Mary Ann Mancuso, the president of Palm Beach County Young Republicans, said the partnership with her organization and the LeMieux Center for Public Policy recognizes “the importance millennials will play in this upcoming election cycle.”

“This race is an important one for our state as we continue work toward our shared vision for a better tomorrow,” she said in a statement.

The race to replace Rubio is one of the most closely watched Senate races this election cycle. While some Senate Republicans have urged Rubio to run for re-election, Rubio has repeatedly said he will not run for re-election.

But according to a statewide survey by Associated Industries of Florida, Rubio was the best bet for Republicans in the U.S. Senate race. In a hypothetical matchup between Rubio and Democrat Patrick Murphy, Rubio would receive 49 percent to Murphy’s 41 percent.

That same survey found Murphy defeated all of the current Republican candidates in hypothetical head-to-head matchups.

Murphy faces Alan Grayson in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary.

Internal poll shows Carlos Beruff slightly ahead

Carlos Beruff may have a slight edge over his Republican opponents, but the race for U.S. Senate still appears to be flying largely under the radar.

According to internal polling being circulated by the Beruff campaign, the Manatee County Republican is at 17 percent support. He is virtually tied with Rep. David Jolly, who garnered 16 percent in the survey.

Rep. Ron DeSantis followed the two men with 9 percent; Todd Wilcox with 5 percent; and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera with 3 percent. The poll showed 50 percent of the 800 likely Republican primary voters surveyed did not indicate a preference.

In a memo to supporters, Beruff’s campaign said the poll showed Beruff is “gaining traction and is now leading the five-way race.” It goes on to say “primary voters are demanding new leaders from outside the political ranks.”

According to the survey, 91 percent of respondents agreed that it was time to “send new leaders to Washington who are not part of the political establishment.”

The poll also found 78 percent of respondents saying they were more likely to vote for Beruff because he supports temporarily banning immigration from Middle Eastern countries “until the federal government adopts thorough policies to screen out potential terrorists.”

The poll surveyed 800 likely GOP voters and was conducted by telephone from March 23 through 25. It has a margin of error of 3.46 percent.

The Republican primary is Aug. 30.

Tom Jackson: Hit that reset button already, Marco Rubio

Well past the point that it became abundantly — and, in some circles, painfully — obvious that Marco Rubio should have applied himself to the job he convinced Floridians he wanted in 2010, a fresh question has arisen:

Should Rubio declare himself a candidate for re-election?

The answer is: Duh.

Of course, he should. This is the biggest no-brainer since Captain America rejected United Nations sanctions. It’s hard to believe he’s even hemming, let alone hawing.

Listen, everyone gets that Rubio has been that “young man in a hurry” for nearly 20 years, especially those on whose hands he stepped reaching for the next rung. And he almost couldn’t be blamed for seeking the presidency, considering how establishment conservatives rhapsodized about his wonkmanship, his reform policies and his political skills.

And maybe, if he’d been quicker with his wits on that New Hampshire stage, maybe the 3-2-1 strategy laid out by his strategists would have prevailed. I mean, suppose Rubio had prefaced his infamous robotic repetitions with a deft qualifier, such as, “Yes, I’m repeating myself, and I will continue to repeat myself because it doesn’t matter how you pose the question, the answer remains the same. What’s true is true: Barack Obama knows exactly what he’s doing.”

This is not beyond imagining, no matter how programmed Rubio’s critics think he is. Indeed, those who know him well, and those who covered him closely during the primary, know he is perfectly capable of riffing off-script without sacrificing expertise.

But that was then, and this is now, more than two months after the stinging defeat in Florida that ended — for the moment, anyway — his White House dream. And just now, Republicans defending lots of purple-state seats need to field their best team if they have any hope of maintaining their majority in the U.S. Senate.

With all due respect to the political talent wrangling to become the GOP nominee — with one tin-eared exception — that team looks better if Rubio is on the roster.

The idea might be growing on him, too. Tuesday afternoon, an email landed bearing Rubio’s signature and the subject line “Time to stand together.”

It reads, in part, “Our liberal opponents have already launched countless attacks against many of my Republican colleagues. We must protect our Republican Senate majority.

“Defeating these Democrats will only be possible if conservatives like us stand together to defend our Republican Senate.”

“Stand together.” At the risk of reading way, way, way too much into a fundraising email, this hints that Mr. I’ll-Be-A-Private-Citizen is signaling a fresh course.

He ought to be, anyway.

With the clarity of retrospect, Rubio shouldn’t have leapt into the awful Republican scrum in the first place. Never mind that he was, with the exception of one memorable debate, clearly the best-informed candidate in the pack. I lost track of the times he fact-checked Donald Trump in real time.

(An aside: The fact Rubio says he’s willing to speak nicely about Trump at the Republican National Convention is a problem for supporters who took his eviscerations of the presumptive nominee to heart, but it’s also, unfortunately, a calculated penance. We’ll be listening closely for what he does and, more important, doesn’t say.)

Alas, this was not the year for facts, articulated policies or — as Jeb Bush came to appreciate and rue — deeply researched and painstakingly detailed plans to fix what ails America. This, instead, is the year a substantial chunk of voters think the presidency is a reality show.

After all, how hard can it be? Barack Obama makes nuke deals with Iran, slows the retreat of glaciers, amends his namesake health plan at will and still squeezes in an afternoon 18 at Fort Belvoir Golf Club.

What’s a first-term senator encountering an unanticipated detour to do? Reroute, already. Hit the reset button. Immediately. Not just because it’s what’s in Rubio’s best political interests, but because the other GOP candidates need time before the June 24 filing deadline to make alternate plans.

Again, re-election to the Senate also is Rubio’s best path forward. He’s not likely to be elected Florida’s governor anytime soon; Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, the most-Florida politician ever, is practically Rick Scott’s heir apparent. And former state House Speaker Will Weatherford, every bit as talented, is almost certain to maneuver himself into future consideration.

Besides, being a senator is a cool job, in and of itself. And if Rubio wins again, then buckles down to the work while avoiding past missteps (the Gang of Eight immigration scheme leaps to mind), ratcheting up his constituent service and resisting the lure of another presidential run in 2020, then by 2024 or 2028 at the outside, he’d be in his 50s, experienced, wiser and a little gray at the temples; the game would again be afoot.

Indeed, perhaps by then he’ll have served in a Republican administration: Secretary of State Marco Rubio. It could happen. And there are worse launching pads.

Hit that button already, Sen. Rubio. It’s the right thing all-around.

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Recovering sports columnist and former Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson argues on behalf of thoughtful conservative principles as our best path forward. Fan of the Beach Boys, pulled-pork barbecue and days misspent at golf, Tom lives in New Tampa with his wife, two children and two yappy middle-aged dogs.

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