How the Orlando massacre changes the political calculus for Marco Rubio and so many Florida politicians

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It took less than 36 hours after the smoke cleared from the shoot-out at Orlando’s Pulse Nightclub before the direction of Marco Rubio‘s political career was made part of the story.

Sunday’s mass shooting may have him reconsidering his future service, reports Elizabeth Koh of McClatchy.

Rubio discussed his political future with radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt Monday.

“I’ve been deeply impacted by it,” Rubio said, after Hewitt asked if Rubio’s plan to not seek re-election had changed. “I think when it visits your home state, when it impacts a community you know well, it really gives you pause to think a little bit about your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country.”

The door is now open for Rubio, for the sake of the country of course, to walk back his decision not seek re-election to the U.S. Senate.

And why not? The state of Florida just experienced its worst shared tragedy since the Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight.

Great leaders do not retreat from the public stage during times like this. They rush headlong into it.

As a critic, I’ve never been as impressed with Rubio as other political observers. But even I recognize that if Rubio really is who these others think he is, he can’t or won’t shrink from the fight brought to the streets of Orlando.

If Rubio does run for re-election, the dominoes his earlier decision knocked over will begin to stand back up. U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis will run for re-election in Florida’s 6th Congressional District, which will, in turn, force some of the local pols running for that seat to reconsider their options. U.S Rep. David Jolly will try to hang on to his congressional seat, setting up a race versus Democrat Charlie Crist that will draw attention from around the country. And poor ol’ Carlos Lopez-Cantera will have to retreat to the doghouse in the plaza level of Florida’s capitol as he makes room for his friend Rubio.

Beyond Rubio and the U.S. Senate race, the shootings in Orlando — and no one wants to say this aloud — did several Florida politicians the favor of moving their unflattering stories off the front page.

Does anyone today care about Pam Bondi‘s role in the Trump University scandal?

Does anyone today care about Gwen Margolis‘ insensitive comments?

Does anyone today care about the decision of Rick Kriseman and other elected officials to dump millions of gallons of sewage into Tampa Bay?

Of course not, all of those stories are B.O. — Before Orlando.

FloridaPolitics.com’s veteran reporter in the Central Florida region, Scott Powers, broke a major story on Saturday when he got U.S. Rep. Gwen Graham all but declaring that she was running for Florida governor in 2018. Also this weekend, the Tampa Bay Times’ Adam Smith wrote a glowing portrait of one of Graham’s likely rivals for the Democratic nomination, Miami Beach Mayor Phil Levine.

Both those stories were so lost in the aftermath of the tragedy in Orlando they did not even make the morning tout sheets like FloridaPolitics’ Sunburn or Marc Caputo’s Florida Playbook.

Of course the day will come when we all again start talking and writing about Bondi and Graham and Levine and all of the other colorful figures who make Sunshine State politics so interesting.

Just not today.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.