Sen. Marco Rubio certainly made some recent news. His displeasure with the ways of the Senate, and Washington in general, was not a well-kept secret. Now that he has publicly shared that displeasure and missed numerous senate votes, his campaign is receiving closer scrutiny.
A Washington Post article quoted a close friend saying Rubio “hates it” when referring to the Senate. Those feelings, along with running for president, have caused him to lead the Senate in missing votes.
That puts him in Barack Obama territory, who also was often missing in the Senate while a first-termer running for president. Other former senators and candidates John Kerry and John McCain also missed votes while running, Rubio would point out.
Rubio has told the media he is indeed missing votes because he is leaving the Senate. Running a presidential campaign is just another reason.
The South Florida Sun Sentinel published a pretty tough editorial this week calling on Rubio to resign. The newspaper pulled few punches.
“If you hate your job, senator,” read the editorial, “follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.”
Florida Politics reported the Democratic National Committee (DNC) “seizes on the Sun-Sentinel’s call for Marco Rubio to resign.” The Florida Democratic Party (FDP) also spread the editorial via social media.
Some of those asking Rubio to step down will be Republicans. Jeb Bush did just that during the GOP debate Wednesday. So did former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Al Cardenas. Will former Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, who resigned that very seat in 2009, weigh in or be asked to weigh in?
Here’s a question for the DNC and FDP. Do you really want Rubio to resign?
Do you really want Rick Scott appointing a U.S. senator who might then have a year’s head start in the job and be running next fall as a sitting senator? Rumors continue that the governor is interested in a Senate seat at some point.
Here is a better question to ponder: What if Scott appointed himself?
If Charlie Crist heard it once, he heard it a thousand times: “Charlie, you should have appointed yourself.” Had Crist done that, a move likely to have provoked criticism and catcalls, there would not have been a Senator Rubio. Hindsight, in the end, is 20-20.
Would there be someone like George LeMieux, who would go to Washington with a round-trip ticket and a pledge not to run for a full six-year term? Probably not.
Also, if Scott truly wants to be a senator, would he rather run as an incumbent or go against Sen. Bill Nelson in 2018? Nelson is giving every indication he will run again. Scott would first need to survive a GOP primary.
Could the Democrats actually be diabolical enough to hope Scott would appoint himself? If the choice was one year for Scott in Washington versus three more in Tallahassee, they would probably grow to love the thought of a self-appointment.
Few would give them that much credit.
Take this “what if” exercise, where Scott would be running for a full Senate term in 2016, a bit further. Would Rubio look to take a shot at a truncated gubernatorial campaign if his presidential bid should start to fade?
Florida requires a new election for governor if more than two years remain on a departing governor’s term. If Rubio’s debate performances translate into stronger poll numbers and increased campaign coffers, the likelihood of this scenario becomes less likely each day.
Outside of those announced 2016 Senate candidates and their supporters, there are plenty of Republicans who would not mind seeing Scott and Rubio trade offices. Some sitting Florida legislators come to mind.
All of this, of course, is speculation. Rubio may ignore his detractors. His spirited response to Bush and the CNBC debate moderator’s call for him to abdicate provided a glimpse into his mindset.
Let’s check the noise level in the coming days.
Bob Sparks is a business and political consultant based in Tallahassee.
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