U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio made his first major ad buy of the election cycle, anticipating a battle with Democrat Val Demings.
The Miami Republican spent more than $1.3 million on advertising set to air the week of Aug. 24 to Sept. 8. That means the first ads should reach voters the morning after Demings officially wins the Democratic nomination following a statewide Primary on Aug. 23.
A report from AdImpact shows Rubio reserving time in five major metropolitan markets.
He dropped $605,569 in the Tampa Bay market, nearly half the reported expenditure. He will also pump $324,189 in Orlando media buys as he blankets airwaves along the critical Interstate 4 corridor. That latter buy hits in the home market for Demings, who has represented the Orlando area in Congress since 2016.
Another $260,825 in time was reported in the West Palm Beach media market. Rubio also spent $181,051 in his home Miami market. Some $18,604 in time also will air in the Jacksonville area, where Demings grew up and just closed her Primary campaign.
The Republican incumbent ramps up advertising amid increasing anxiety over whether Republicans can retake a majority in the Senate and retain several seats under GOP control now. This week, an effort was announced by Democrats called the Flippable Five, targeting GOP-held seats in Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.
The RealClearPolitics polling index still shows Rubio a favorite to win a third term in the Senate. But polls out this month show the race tightening. One poll, a seeming outlier from the University of North Florida, shows Demings up by 4 percentage points on the incumbent, and other polls published the same week showed the race tied.
Meanwhile, Demings has proven to be a fundraising juggernaut, outraising Rubio consistently and pulling in nearly $48 million this cycle to the incumbent’s almost $37 million. He still holds a cash advantage, much of that raised prior to 2021. As of Aug. 3, Rubio had $15 million available to spend compared to Demings $8.8 million.