Floridians will remember Labor Day 2016 by the arrival of a hurricane named Hermine. She unpacked her comeback punch of 80 mph winds just before moving onshore. There's another comeback punch I believe will also be attributed to this time in history: that of U. S. Senator Marco Rubio.
The biggest of swing states, Florida is again the poster child of battleground states. Her conservative and socially conservative voters are poised to rise and lead this nation in defense of a liberal hijacking of the U. S. Supreme Court.
And they’ll help Marco Rubio get elected to defend it.
The mainstream media was ready to pen the narrative that Senator Marco Rubio’s shortfall in his Presidential quest would also doom any hope of defending his Senate seat. Hillary was being projected as a sure bet to take care of business in Florida.
Now I’m not a betting man, but after looking at the numbers of our just completed Florida Primary, I wouldn’t even paper trade this scenario.
More on that in a moment, but first an insider’s look at Marco Rubio.
One of my professional responsibilities is that of a legislative consultant in Tallahassee for the last 21 years. During that time I’ve witnessed a flock of legislators come and go. When you work behind the scenes, you get to know the players in ways the public rarely sees.
One could sense that Marco was a standout when he arrived in Tallahassee.
When the young freshman legislator arrived at the state house fresh off his early stint as a city commissioner for West Miami, there was no doubt he was an exceptionally bright and ambitious young politico. But more importantly, he was a quick study, complemented with a very effective skill of communicating and connecting his message to others. In a state of shifting demographics toward a Latino majority, Rubio came to Tallahassee speaking both English and Spanish that endeared him to many. Complement that with Marco’s compelling story of his family’s Cuban immigrant roots, his youthful “good looks” and his equally appealing family portrait. Add that up and you have a political career custom tailored for the changing landscape here in Florida.
Fast forward to the present and the former Speaker of the Florida House and sitting U. S. Senator just successfully defended his Senate seat with a very impressive margin in our state GOP primary.
Make no mistake about it; Senator Rubio still retains a tremendous amount of political capital in this state. And one must be careful not to miscalculation what’s ahead in Florida’s U. S. Senate race.
Florida Republicans are much more energized than their Democrat counterparts.
In our Florida Primary, 34 percent of 4.4 million Republican voters cast a ballot in the Senate race. The Democrats got out only about 24 percent of their 4.7 million registered voters in their Senate contest. Marco banked 365,000 more votes than the Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy.
In the South Florida Democrat strongholds of Palm Beach and Broward counties, the dismal turnout was 19.2 percent and 16.5 percent respectively.
Looking back to the governor’s race in 2014, low Democrat turnout in South Florida’s primary tracked similarly to a low turnout in the following general election. The million dollar question is, will history repeat itself this November?
The current numbers are not encouraging for Murphy as he is unknown outside of his congressional district. To be competitive, he has to raise a lot of cash just to attain reasonable statewide name recognition.
I would speculate in looking at these numbers the DNC may not be too eager to invest a lot of their cash in this race. Before Marco reconsidered and agreed to defend his seat, Murphy, and the Democrats were banking on an equally no-name Republican candidate to beat. Rubio’s return changed that calculus big time.
On the contrary, the primary resulted in great news for Rubio. It demonstrated that his missed Senate votes while on the campaign trail, his debate comments about Donald Trump’s physical attributes, his loss in the Florida Presidential primary and his reversal to seek reelection to the U. S. Senate reflected little to no drag on his Republican support.
Floridians, both Democrats, and Republicans know Marco very well. Who they don’t know is Patrick Murphy. And as he is defined in the coming weeks, Floridians might not be too receptive to what they find out.
Much has been reported about Murphy’s upbringing in a privileged South Florida family. That’s in contrast to Rubio’s working family, Cuban immigrant roots. The comparison will be the “silver spoon” of Murphy’s upbringing vs. Rubio’s two-parent, working class, immigrant household.
Expect Murphy to be dragged down by media reports that surfaced about alleged untruths about his work experience and a business he claimed he started that led the cleanup of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In truth, it was a small subcontractor company that only operated a few months. He also falsely claimed to have a double major from the University of Miami in accounting and finance. The truth is, he only has a general business degree.
The latest Real Clear Politics poll has Rubio up by six points, but that’s not the case for some of Rubio’s fellow Republican Senators in other key states.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has a clear challenge on his hands to retain his GOP majority, which is now with 54 seats. Republican Senate seats are in jeopardy in Illinois, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. The math is not encouraging.
But I expect Marco Rubio will unleash a comeback punch in Florida similar what we experienced with Hurricane Hermine.
To do that he’ll have to get back his “fire in the belly” determination in leading the GOP defense of the U. S. Senate. Marco’s campaign leadership is crucial to a successful GOP defense.
A close race for Rubio in Florida is news Republicans can well do without across the nation.