Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Sen. Marco Rubio (R)

Florida

N/A

rubio.senate.gov

Biography

Elected: 2010, term expires 2016, 1st term.

Born: May 28, 1971, Miami, FL

Home: West Miami, FL

Education: U. of FL, B.A. 1993; U. of Miami, J.D. 1996.

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1997-2010; prof., FL Intl. U., 2009-10.

Ethnicity: Hispanic/Latino

Religion: Roman Catholic

Family: Married (Jeannette Dousdebes) , 4 children

Marco Rubio, the junior senator from Florida, won a riveting contest in 2010 and is regarded as one of the Republicans with the best chance to reshape the GOP for the 21st century. He is a Latino in a party that is desperate to make inroads with that demographic group, an eloquent and telegenic public speaker with a compelling biography, and a consistent conservative with a deep interest in policy. All of these qualities make him one of the most-watched politicians heading into the 2016 presidential contest.

Rubio was mostly brought up in a working-class Cuban-American neighborhood in Miami, the son of immigrants who left Cuba a few years before Fidel Castro took power. Rubio had said during his political rise that he was the “son of exiles” who were forced out by Castro’s regime, but The Washington Post reported in October 2011 that his parents’ story fit a more typical pattern of people immigrating to find a better life. He rejected the idea that he embellished their story, responding in an op-ed column, “My understanding of my parents’ journey has always been based on what they told me about events that took place more than 50 years ago— more than a decade before I was born. What they described was not a timeline, or specific dates.” But in his subsequent 2012 autobiography, An American Son, he hewed more closely to the Post’s rendition. His parents had grown up poor and struggled to make ends meet. His father worked long days as a bartender, and his mother was a hotel maid with a second job at Kmart. The family moved to follow work; Rubio spent six years in Las Vegas while his parents worked in the hotel industry before returning to Miami for high school. At the encouragement of an aunt, he was baptized as a Mormon along with his mother and sister, only to convert back to Catholicism as a teenager. His upbringing is a cornerstone of his stump speech in public life, and he frequently references being “raised by people who know what it is like to lose their country.”

Rubio initially was a Democrat, inspired by Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy’s famous “the dream shall never die” speech at the 1980 Democratic National Convention. But he said he soon joined his beloved grandfather in becoming a staunch Ronald Reagan supporter. “Reagan’s election and my grandfather’s allegiance to him were defining influences on me politically,” Rubio wrote in his autobiography. “I’ve been a Republican ever since.”

Rubio played football in high school, and despite his small stature, earned a football scholarship to Tarkio College in Missouri. He returned home after the school went bankrupt, spent a year at a junior college, and got his undergraduate degree in 1993 at the University of Florida. He then went to the University of Miami for a law degree. He interned for Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and in his last year of law school, ran the Dade County operation for Republican Sen. Bob Dole’s presidential campaign in 1996. There, he met future Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who became his political mentor. Bush has described him as “the best orator of American politics today, a good family man. … He has managed to find a way to communicate a conservative message full of hope and optimism.”

Rubio landed a position at the law firm of Al Cardenas, a prominent Republican he got to know on the campaign. Around the same time, he met Jeanette Dousdebes, a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, and they married in 1998. At age 26, he ran for city commissioner in West Miami, a tiny, heavily Cuban town just south of Miami International Airport, and beat an incumbent. Two years later, he won an open state House seat. Rubio quickly endeared himself to party leaders by working tirelessly on redistricting plans. In 2007, he became speaker of the Florida House, making him the youngest person and the first Hispanic to achieve that position. He toured the state, holding “idea-raisers” with voters to find budget-neutral ideas to improve the state. The 100 ideas he liked best were bundled into a book, which former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called “a work of genius.” Many of the smaller proposals passed easily, but his personal favorite, replacing the state property tax with a sales tax, stalled.

In May 2009, Rubio announced his campaign for the Senate. He caught the tea party movement’s lightning in its nascent days and used it to power his upstart primary campaign against then-popular Republican Gov. Charlie Crist, who had long been planning his bid for the Senate. Crist began the race with a huge cash and name recognition advantage, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsed him early on. But Crist was never a favorite of conservatives, and his embrace of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus bill (and his literal embrace of the president at a public event) infuriated many of them. Rubio received early support from Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., a conservative stalwart who was backing insurgent GOP candidates. By the time Crist realized the conservative base was slipping away, it was too late. Rubio had gone from underdog to front-runner. On the verge of losing the primary, Crist quit the Republican Party in late April to run as an independent.

In the general election campaign, Rubio faced both Crist and Democratic nominee Kendrick Meek, a U.S. House member. Crist started off with an early lead in the polls, but his support plummeted as he got caught in the crossfire from Rubio on the right and Meek on the left, both of whom painted Crist as a political opportunist. Crist tried to become the de facto Democratic candidate with appeals to independents and moderate Republicans, but Meek refused to get out of the race, regularly polling at around 20% of the likely vote and denying Crist a one-on-one contest with Rubio.

Tea party activists, multiplying by the week, embraced Rubio’s campaign and his theme of “Reclaim America.” And although he benefited from the association, Rubio at the same time stood apart from the tea party. Polished and measured in his rhetoric, he was careful to avoid some of the more extreme aspects of the tea party that could repel moderate voters. But he was diplomatic in giving them their due. He said that early in the campaign, “I noticed a real frustration that neither party spoke to the mainstream of America, their aspirations for their country and their families. And the tea party movement became an expression of that.” Rubio stressed fiscal responsibility, although he sidestepped specific policy proposals. He indicated support for raising the eligibility age for Social Security beneficiaries and giving the president the line-item veto over spending bills. He opposed abortion rights and took a more conservative position than Crist on immigration, supporting Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigrants. Prominent Republicans got on board with Rubio, including former Vice President Dick Cheney, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

After August, Rubio did not trail in a single independent poll, and most polls showed him holding a double-digit lead. On Election Night, he won with 49% of the vote. Crist got 30% and Meek, 20%. At his victory celebration, Rubio made clear he would continue to be his own brand of Republican in the Senate, as he was in the campaign. “We make a great mistake if we believe that tonight these results are somehow an embrace of the Republican Party,” he said. “What they are is a second chance, a second chance for Republicans to be what they said they were going to be not so long ago.”

But Rubio notably declined to join the Senate Tea Party Caucus founded by fellow freshman Rand Paul, R-Ky. “My fear has always been that if you start creating these little clubs or organizations in Washington run by politicians, the movement starts to lose its energy,” Rubio explained in a radio interview. Early on, Rubio stuck to his theme of cutting government spending and came out against raising the debt ceiling. In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece in March 2011, Rubio wrote, “If we simply raise it once again, without a real plan to bring spending under control and get our economy growing, America faces the very real danger of a catastrophic economic crisis.” But his voting pattern kept the movement happy; in his first year in the Senate, he was the 13th most conservative senator, with a perfect conservative score on social issues, according to National Journal’s annual rankings. He also pleased tea party members by being one of just eight senators to oppose the New Year’s Eve 2013 fiscal cliff deal; he contended it would complicate economic growth and job creation because employers would pass on the cost of the deal’s tax hike to their employees.

Rubio turned some heads during August 2011 by taking a trip to mostly liberal areas in California, making stops in Beverly Hills and San Francisco. Some viewed his trip as an attempt to raise his national profile and angle for the vice presidential spot on the GOP presidential ticket in 2012. In an address in Simi Valley, California at the Ronald Presidential Library and Museum, Rubio irked Democrats for suggesting that Social Security and Medicare had created a culture of dependence on government and “weakened us as people.” With the establishment of Social Security and Medicare, he said, “All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government’s job.”

With Obama and congressional Republicans deadlocked over jobs legislation in fall 2011, Rubio teamed with another freshman, Democrat Chris Coons of Delaware, to introduce a modest bill with elements both parties could agree on: Extending some expiring tax credits while offering others for research and development, lowering some of the reporting requirements for small companies about to go public, and expanding visa opportunities for skilled foreign workers. But their bill did not advance, and he chafed at the idea that the Senate would move into election-year gridlock: “We can’t just sit around here for 10 months and say we’re not going to do anything until there’s another election,” he told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “We have an obligation to do something.”

As the Republican presidential primary candidates squabbled in early 2012, Rubio did his part to assist Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. He blasted Gingrich’s campaign for airing a Spanish-language radio ad that described Romney as “the most anti-immigration candidate,” and Gingrich pulled the spot. Even though Rubio had pledged to remain neutral during the primary season, when polls in March showed Obama beating Romney in Florida, the senator told Fox News: “I am going to endorse Mitt Romney. He offers such a stark contrast to the president’s record.” That triggered immediate speculation about his prospects for being included on the ticket.

At the same time, Rubio tried to offer his party a lifeline on immigration to bolster its low standing among Hispanics. He began talking about a potential compromise to the stalled DREAM Act aimed at helping children of illegal immigrants. His alternative called for extending legal residency to immigrant children bound for college or the military. The proposal came under sharp attack from the right, and he sought to characterize it as being less about immigration than about humanitarian relief for a group facing deportation. But Rubio’s momentum came to a halt when Obama used his executive powers to put into place the major elements of Rubio’s bill, leaving the senator grumbling that he deserved some credit.

As the vice-presidential guessing game reached a fever pitch in June, several news organizations, including the Post, ABC News, and The New York Times, quoted anonymous Romney advisers as saying the senator wasn’t under serious consideration as a running mate. That prompted Romney to tell reporters. “Marco Rubio is being thoroughly vetted as part of our process.” Even though Romney subsequently picked Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, all of the speculation benefitted the senator. He elevated his national profile and sold more copies of An American Son while keeping a safe arm’s length from a candidate many conservatives considered inauthentic.

Rubio was chosen to introduce Romney at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, and in his remarks, he criticized Obama for abandoning his positive message of 2008. “Hope and change has become divide and conquer,” he complained. “…The story of our time will be written by Americans who haven’t yet been born. Let’s make sure they write that we did our part.” Despite being overshadowed by actor Clint Eastwood’s now-infamous rambling appearance, Rubio’s speech drew widespread praise, with some pundits deeming it the best of the convention. He later campaigned heavily for Romney in Florida, but in the end, was unable to deliver his home state.

Following the election, Rubio gave several policy-oriented speeches, including one in which he mentioned the phrase “middle class” nearly three dozen times while discussing the need to close “the opportunity gap” between the wealthy and poor by reforming college Pell grants and student loan programs. He also took part in a bipartisan group of senators that met to craft an immigration reform proposal.

By early 2013, he was being discussed as a presidential contender, and he was chosen to give the Republican response to Obama’s State of the Union address that year. Although some people mocked him for awkwardly reaching for a water bottle midway through his remarks, he won favorable reviews for interweaving elements of his own story with criticism of the president for an “obsession” with raising taxes. “He’s definitely doing all the right things to build a national profile and make himself a formidable force in 2016,” Washington lobbyist Mauricio Claver-Carone, director of the U.S.-Cuba Democracy PAC, told National Journal.

 

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-3041

(202) 228-0285

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 284
Washington, DC 20510-0908

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 224-3041

(202) 228-0285

RSOB- Russell Senate Office Building Room 284
Washington, DC 20510-0908

DISTRICT OFFICE

(904) 398-8586

1650 Prudential Drive Suite 220
Jacksonville, FL 32207

DISTRICT OFFICE

(904) 398-8586

1650 Prudential Drive Suite 220
Jacksonville, FL 32207

DISTRICT OFFICE

(305) 418-8553

8669 NW 36th Street Suite 110
Doral, FL 33166

DISTRICT OFFICE

(305) 418-8553

8669 NW 36th Street Suite 110
Doral, FL 33166

DISTRICT OFFICE

(407) 254-2573

201 South Orange Avenue Suite 350
Orlando, FL 32801

DISTRICT OFFICE

(407) 254-2573

201 South Orange Avenue Suite 350
Orlando, FL 32801

DISTRICT OFFICE

(850) 433-2603

700 South Palafox Street Suite 125
Pensacola, FL 32502

DISTRICT OFFICE

(850) 433-2603

700 South Palafox Street Suite 125
Pensacola, FL 32502

DISTRICT OFFICE

(813) 287-5035

5201 West Kennedy Boulevard Suite 530
Tampa, FL 33609

DISTRICT OFFICE

(813) 287-5035

5201 West Kennedy Boulevard Suite 530
Tampa, FL 33609

DISTRICT OFFICE

(850) 599-9100

402 South Monroe Street Suite 2105E
Tallahassee, FL 32399

DISTRICT OFFICE

(850) 599-9100

402 Monroe Street Suite 2105
Tallahassee, FL 32399

DISTRICT OFFICE

(239) 213-1521

3299 East Tamiami Trail Suite 106
Naples, FL 34112

DISTRICT OFFICE

(239) 213-1521

3299 East Tamiami Trail Suite 106
Naples, FL 34112

DISTRICT OFFICE

(561) 775-3360

4580 PGA Boulevard Suite 201
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

DISTRICT OFFICE

(561) 775-3360

4580 PGA Boulevard Suite 201
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 558701
Miami, FL 33255-8701

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 558701
Miami, FL 33255-8701

EXPORT CONTACTS » *

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Agriculture

Jessica Fernandez
Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

Sara Decker
Legislative Director

Eleni Valanos
Legislative Correspondent

Banking

Caleb Orr
Legislative Correspondent

Commerce

Lauren Reamy
Professional Staff Member

Eleni Valanos
Legislative Correspondent

Communication

Zach Zampella
Constituent Services Manager

Disaster

Zach Zampella
Constituent Services Manager

Education

Emily Bouck
Legislative Assistant

Eduardo Sacasa
Legislative Correspondent

Energy

Lauren Reamy
Professional Staff Member

Eleni Valanos
Legislative Correspondent

Environment

Lauren Reamy
Professional Staff Member

Eleni Valanos
Legislative Correspondent

Family

Emily Bouck
Legislative Assistant

J.R. Sanchez
Senior Policy Advisor; Director of Outreach

Finance

Caleb Orr
Legislative Correspondent

Foreign

Bethany Poulos
Legislative Correspondent

Jamie Fly
Counselor for Foreign and National Security Affairs

Viviana Bovo
Director of Special Projects

Maggie Dougherty
Legislative Assistant

Grants

Erinn Robinson
Press Assistant

Gun Issues

J.R. Sanchez
Senior Policy Advisor; Director of Outreach

Health

Jessica Fernandez
Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

Sara Decker
Legislative Director

Emily Bouck
Legislative Assistant

Eduardo Sacasa
Legislative Correspondent

Homeland Security

Mercedes Ayala
Senior Constituent Services Representative

Brian Walsh
Professional Staff Member

Housing

Caleb Orr
Legislative Correspondent

Human Rights

Jessica Fernandez
Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

Sara Decker
Legislative Director

Maggie Dougherty
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Gregg Nunziata
General Counsel

Mercedes Ayala
Senior Constituent Services Representative

Intelligence

Brian Walsh
Professional Staff Member

Judiciary

Gregg Nunziata
General Counsel

Sutton Truluck
Legislative Correspondent

Labor

Caleb Orr
Legislative Correspondent

Emily Bouck
Legislative Assistant

J.R. Sanchez
Senior Policy Advisor; Director of Outreach

Eduardo Sacasa
Legislative Correspondent

Medicare

Jessica Fernandez
Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations

Sara Decker
Legislative Director

Emily Bouck
Legislative Assistant

Military

Brian Walsh
Professional Staff Member

Jonathan Arias
Research Assistant

National Security

Brian Walsh
Professional Staff Member

Rules

J.R. Sanchez
Senior Policy Advisor; Director of Outreach

Tax

Caleb Orr
Legislative Correspondent

Telecommunications

Eleni Valanos
Legislative Correspondent

Transportation

Zach Zampella
Constituent Services Manager

Veterans

Terri Finger
Senior Constituent Services Representative

Election Results

2010 GENERAL
Marco Rubio
Votes: 2,645,743
Percent: 48.89%
Charlie Crist
Votes: 1,607,549
Percent: 29.71%
Kendrick Meek
Votes: 1,092,936
Percent: 20.2%
2010 PRIMARY
Marco Rubio
Votes: 1,069,936
Percent: 84.62%
William Kogut
Votes: 112,080
Percent: 8.86%
William Escoffery
Votes: 82,426
Percent: 6.52%

* Export counts will reset after 30 days. Please contact your Dedicated Advisor if you have reached your limit.

To order a print copy of the 2016 edition of the Almanac of American Politics, click here. For questions about print orders, call Columbia Books at 1-888-265-0600 ext 0266 or email customer service.

For questions about the digital Almanac, please contact your Dedicated Advisor or Membership@NationalJournal.com.

×