There are half-dozen substantial reasons to support Sen. Marco Rubio???s (R-FL) apparent decision not to seek re-election. It is becoming evident that he will soon announce he is foregoing another Senate term in order to concentrate fully on a presidential run, and his move will prove correct.
Rubio???s impending decision is consistent within the context of assuming his ultimate goal is to become President of the United States, and not a national legislator or political figure. In politics, timing is everything and Sen. Rubio, at just 43 years of age, will have many options to continue his promising career even if his 2016 presidential gambit falls short.
He???s also right to commit to just one political campaign next year. Running for President while fighting a contested Senate re-election battle in what is America???s toughest swing state would surely end in failure to some major degree.
Reason Number One: Sen. Rubio can test the presidential waters because he has a respectable chance of winning the nomination. A brilliant campaigner who came from nowhere in 2010 to destroy incumbent Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in the Senate GOP primary – to the point where the chief executive was even forced to unceremoniously leave the party – Rubio will connect with the grassroots constituencies that are so important to scoring well in the early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Winning a state and exceeding expectations early would then make him viable in the big, delegate-rich states like say, Florida, for example.
Reason Two: If the Florida Senator loses the nomination but maintains good relations with the eventual winner, he will be on the Vice Presidential short list, thus continuing to expand his stature. If Rubio is selected as the VP nominee, he will either win or be more experienced after a national general election run. Either way, he???s the likely early front-runner heading into 2020, if the Democrats win, or 2024 if the Republican ticket is victorious.
As a person who can excite crowds, constituencies and, most importantly, the Republican base, Sen. Rubio has also proven he can win in the most important state on the GOP presidential map, in addition to having an obvious appeal to the burgeoning Hispanic voter population. Certainly such attributes will be badly needed on the GOP ticket for any presidential nominee.
Reason Three: Florida will host an open Governor???s race in 2018 because Gov. Rick Scott (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. Clearly, if he were not President or Vice President, Rubio would have the option of returning home to run for Governor. Winning this election would add executive experience to his legislative record, thus completing his resume.
Additionally, Sen. Bill Nelson (D) also comes in-cycle then and turning 76 years of age at that time after completing what will be 30 years of congressional service, the veteran politician may call it a career. This would mean an open Senate race to compliment an incumbent-less Governor???s contest, thus giving Rubio yet one more option if he felt a Washington return would better suit him.
Reason Four: Mr. Rubio would also have the option of not running at all in 2018, but rather spending his political time preparing a 2020 presidential bid. Becoming a media commentator, political pundit, and author is a proven path to launch a presidential campaign, and it???s a bonus when already having elective experience. This would be a particularly attractive option if a new Democratic President begins to experience popularity problems, which will invariably be the case after ten-plus consecutive years of one-party White House control.
Reason Five: Realistically, Rubio???s Senate re-election is not guaranteed and therefore running again might be a bigger risk than not. In anticipation of the Senator???s national move, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) has reportedly scheduled his own political announcement for March 23rd. Murphy, he says, will run for the Senate irrespective of Rubio???s plans. The young Congressman is a strong candidate. Therefore, a hard fought Florida swing Senate race is guaranteed, no matter what the circumstances.
Reason Six: What does serving another Senate term really accomplish for Mr. Rubio? He already has the experience of being a Senator, and continuing to serve in a body that just 10% of people believe is doing a good job is hardly a way to forge a positive image. Additionally, with Congress trapped in what appears to be a terminal state of gridlock, little realistic opportunity presents itself to craft meaningful legislation that will actually be enacted.
Though the Florida Senate seat – and the Republican majority with it ??? will be at greater risk without Rubio running for re-election, the better long-term play dictates striking while the presidential political iron is hot, and with full force. A man with options always has the luxury of moving quickly???and should. Sen. Marco Rubio is such a man.