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Debbie Wasserman-Schultz not running for U.S. Senate

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Democratic National Committee chairwoman and South Florida U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz will not seek the Senate seat likely to be vacated by Marco Rubio and will instead seek re-election in her Broward- and Miami-Dade-based 23rd congressional district, the Sun-Sentinel reports.

DWS was widely seen as a problematic yet potent contender for the seat that many expect to be highly competitive in 2016, whether Rubio fully launches into a White House bid or not. If he does, it would be the first open Senate seat in Florida since Mel Martinez left the seat in 2010.

Many Democratic voices around the state have echoed the prevailing sentiment that while she would invariably bring a great deal of resources and out-of-state support to bear on a prospective run, she may not be electable north of I-75, where her brashly partisan, cosmopolitan persona would likely be jarring to the Blue Dog-style Democrats native to North Florida.

Her announcement leaves a clearer path to the Democratic nomination for U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy should he decide to pursue it. Murphy has proven to be a workhorse on the campaign trail, outperforming the top of the ticket on the Democratic side in 2012 & 2014, as well as a prodigious fundraiser. Murphy would also face dark-horse candidate Pam Keith of northern Palm Beach County, the only Democrat to formally file so far.

Other likely contenders for the seat include former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford and Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, though the field thinned out substantially yesterday when Charlie Crist said he would not jump into the race, opting to help elect other Democrats in what is likely to be a strong presidential cycle for Florida’s embattled minority party.

Ryan Ray writes about campaigns and public policy in Tampa Bay and across the state. A contributor to FloridaPolitics.com and before that, The Florida Squeeze, he covers the Legislature as a member of the Florida Capitol Press Corps and has worked as a staffer on several campaigns. He can be reached at ryan@floridapolitics.com.

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