Marco Rubio has said he’ll make a decision about whether to run for President and announce it in a few weeks. The January announcement is a coin flip.
Let’s remember that under Florida law Rubio can’t be on the ballot for President and Senate. While he can back out of the Presidential race and run for Senate up to winter 2016, given that Florida is a swing state and the Democrats will try to get a top-tier challenger either way (i.e. NOT Debbie Wasserman Schultz) and he might face primary challenge, Rubio really can’t have it both ways for too long.
So what will he do? Two years ago this was a no-brainer. Rubio was seen as the party’s future, dubbed the “RJ III of American Politics” by GOP pollster Whit Ayers, and riding high in the polls. Since his support for immigration reform, and then trying flip flop against it, Rubio’s standing in the polls with primary voters has dropped. If he does run Rubio will start in the middle of the pack behind Chris Christie, Rand Paul, and Jeb Bush. He’s kind of in political no-man’s land. Rubio is not the favorite of the Bush Republicans nor is he the darling of the Tea Party.
As I mentioned, it’s not a slam dunk that Rubio will get re-elected if he focuses only on the Senate. In a presidential year, without a Tea Party wave, higher turnout and top-notch challenger, Rubio could lose. Some polls show his unfavorable rating has risen.
But what if Rubio doesn’t run for the White House in 2016? Might he miss his one chance? If the GOP wins in 2016 and Rubio is re-elected, the Senator will have to wait until 2024 to run again. In politics 9 years is a lifetime and Rubio will no longer be the fresh face (9 more years in the Senate takes away that newness) and will have to go through another re-election fight in 2022.
Of course if Rubio runs for the White House and doesn’t win that’ll likely be the end of his political career. Decisions, decisions for Rubio. The suspense isn’t killing me but it might be doing a number of the Florida Senator.