Rubio Keeps Florida Senate Seat

Defeats Rep. Patrick Murphy in fierce fight for chamber control

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., conducts a campaign rally at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa, Tenn., February 29, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., conducts a campaign rally at McGhee Tyson Airport in Alcoa, Tenn., February 29, 2016. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted November 8, 2016 at 8:17pm

Sen. Marco Rubio won at least one election this year.

The Florida Republican successfully defended his Senate seat in a heated race against Democratic challenger Rep. Patrick Murphy, The Associated Press projects.

Coming into Election Day, the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call rated the race Leans Republican.

After dropping out of the presidential race in March, the Florida Republican ran for his old seat.

The race was seen as essential to Rubio’s future in politics. Murphy had mocked Rubio’s pledge to serve out a six-year term if re-elected, suggesting instead he’d seek another presidential bid in 2020.

Murphy had been seen as having a shot at capturing the seat that would help the minority party take the Senate. But national Democrats throttled back support in the weeks leading up to Election Day, cutting off money in favor of other races party operatives considered cheaper and more winnable. 

Twice over eight days in October, President Barack Obama put a bull’s-eye on Rubio’s back, telling Florida voters he would “say anything” to keep his seat.

Murphy had been down in the polls in the last month running against one of the Republican Party’s biggest stars and beset by uncomfortable questions over his worthiness for higher office.

Murphy is a fresh-faced congressman who ran against Rubio, who had nearly 100 percent name recognition.

Murphy’s campaign showed signs of life after a cash boost in late October from a Democratic super PAC, but the Florida Democrat still lagged in the polls.

The Senate primary also cost Florida Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson his seat in Congress.

Grayson came in a distant second behind Murphy in the August primary.

Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter.