Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio will return to Washington for a second term, emerging victorious from a campaign he jumped into at the last minute after he shut down his presidential campaign.
Rubio defeated Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in Tuesday’s election in a race that was seen as critical for Republicans if they were to maintain their Senate majority.
Rubio’s decision to seek re-election boosted the GOP’s chance of keeping the seat, and outside groups pumped millions of dollars into the race to help ensure Rubio’s victory.
Rubio repeatedly said he wouldn’t seek a second term after he dropped out of the presidential race when Donald Trump soundly beat him in Florida’s primary. But Rubio changed his mind two days before the deadline to get on the ballot.
“I want to thank the people of this extraordinary state for giving me another chance to serve them in the United States Senate,” Rubio said Tuesday night.
“There is no way for this nation to move forward if we leave anyone behind. So I hope that I and my colleges as we return to work in Washington, D.C. can set a better example of how political discourse should exist in this country,” Rubio said. “I know people feel betrayed, and you have a right to. Every major institution in our society has failed us. The media, the government, big business, Wall Street, academia … They’ve all failed us. And so people are so frustrated, and angry. But, we must channel that anger and frustration into something positive.”
Rubio did not mention Donald Trump by name Tuesday night, despite having endorsed him.
Murphy was positive in his concession speech. It was certainly not what he wanted.
The congressman called Rubio to congratulate him and wish him the best. Murphy then addressed his disappointed supporters in a packed ballroom.
“Obviously, we were expecting and hoping for a different result this evening. The people of Florida have spoken and at the end of the day I respect their choice,” Murphy said.
Before Rubio entered the race, Murphy and the Democratic National Committee thought the race was promising. After Rubio joined the race in June he took the lead and never looked back.
It was a very ugly campaign with sharp attacks back and forth. “Too often it seems the negative attacks and the partisanship would overshadow the issues that are so important to Floridians, and I don’t know if our country can take another election quite like this one,” Murphy said said.
Murphy struggled with name recognition. Then, in October, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee pulled his Florida TV funding and funneled it to other states.
“I’m proud of what we were able to get done and proud of what we accomplished over the last four years and I’m proud of this campaign that we just ran,” Murphy said.
“This campaign has included Floridians from all walks of life and backgrounds, Floridians with aspirations and hopes, all with the same drive to succeed, to leave something better behind for their children and I believe that it’s that same passion that will continue to drive Florida and drive this country forward no matter what happens at the end of tonight. I know that we are going to keep moving forward together. We are never going to give up; we are always going to work hard for this state,” he added.