Marco Rubio Officially Has a Senate Challenger
The early part of the campaign season is heating up, as U.S. House Representative of Florida, Val Demings, has announced her Senate bid to try and unseat long-time Senator Marco Rubio in Florida. Val Demings has had a long, public history in both law enforcement and in Florida politics. She was the 36th police chief of Orlando, Florida, and she was the first woman to ever hold that title, before being elected to the House of Representatives in 2017.
She spent a while in the spotlight after it was announced that she was on Joe Biden's list of potential Vice Presidential candidates before Biden ultimately selected Kamala Harris as his running mate.
Representative Demings came into the national spotlight in 2018 as a vocal critic of President Trump, notably during his impeachment trial (the first one). The Jacksonville native was the Impeachment Manager against Donald Trump during the first impeachment, and she's touting an against-all-odds story of a black woman from Jacksonville who made it to the police chief first, the US House second, the manager of one of the most important impeachment trials of our lifetimes, and now possibly to the US Senate.
It's going to be an extremely tough race. Marco Rubio has enjoyed a long tenure and was favored among some to be the Republican Party runner-up after Senator Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan's 2012 election loss to Barack Obama for a second term. But that was a long time ago, so long it feels like it could've been a lifetime ago, and a lot has changed since 2012.
The most striking thing that's changed has been the Trump revolution. Donald Trump's candidacy for the Republican ticket in 2015, all the way up to his success at securing the presidency in 2016, has changed American politics forever. There's no going back to a time before Trump.
And for those of us old enough to remember, Trump and Marco Rubio had quite a few very public battles. Rubio said some pretty nasty things about Trump (and Trump said some really nasty things about Rubio), so "Little Marco's" reception among Republicans has been lukewarm, at best, sometimes.
Currently, while he has more support than people who are flat-out against him, Senator Marco Rubio doesn't conjure up a majority of support from voters. It may be that many still see him as "establishment," the old guard Republican Party who existed before Trump transformed it in 2016.
As Florida Politics notes:
The Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey released Wednesday shows 47% of Florida voters approve of Rubio’s job performance and 42% disapprove. The same poll shows 46% of Florida voters think he should be reelected in 2022, while 40% don’t.
His support is 46%, while Governor Ron DeSantis, a much more Trump-like figure in Florida politics, enjoys 53% support. There's some discrepancy here that's not quite so easily explained. But if I was a betting man, I'd say that the Florida Republican Party lies firmly in Trump's grasp. Time will also tell whether or not Senator Rubio will have a primary challenger.