SPOTLIGHT | FL-sen

Florida, Man

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., speaks at a campaign event to the Sun City community in Bluffton, S.C., on Thursday Feb. 11, 2016.
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
Feb. 12, 2016, 9:08 a.m.

As Marco Ru­bio looks to re­cov­er from a dis­ap­point­ing per­form­ance in New Hamp­shire, the race to re­place him in the Sen­ate con­tin­ues to un­ravel in­to one of the most un­wieldy on the com­pet­it­ive map. While it’s clear Ru­bio will be happy to leave the Sen­ate be­hind, his exit put a seat in a pres­id­en­tial battle­ground in jeop­ardy and could help Demo­crats net enough for a ma­jor­ity in the next Con­gress.

— The seat is as close to a must-win as Demo­crats have in the party’s quest to re­gain the ma­jor­ity after los­ing it in 2014. Need­ing at least four seats to win con­trol, or five if Re­pub­lic­ans win the White House, we ranked Flor­ida fourth in our latest rank­ings of the 10 seats most likely to flip party con­trol. There have been de­vel­op­ments on both sides this week in one of the only races with primar­ies in both parties.

— The New York Times re­por­ted Thursday it un­covered emails and mar­ket­ing doc­u­ments show­ing Rep. Alan Grayson (D) had high­lighted his status as a mem­ber of Con­gress to en­tice po­ten­tial in­vestors in his hedge fund, something the con­gress­man dis­puted in an in­ter­view with the Times. But an email last year from his now former cam­paign man­ager showed his top ad­visers pleaded with him to close his hedge fund, wor­ried it would make the “pro­gress­ive cru­sader,” as he’s called in his first TV ad, look like a hy­po­crite. While that story should help the DSCC’s en­dorsed can­did­ate, Rep. Patrick Murphy, the Re­pub­lic­an field con­tin­ues to grow.

Car­los Beruff, a wealthy home­build­er closely con­nec­ted to Gov. Rick Scott, is likely to enter the race against Scott’s lieu­ten­ant gov­ernor, Car­los Lopez-Cantera. The primary also in­cludes two mem­bers of Con­gress, Free­dom Caucus found­ing mem­ber Ron De­S­antis and Dav­id Jolly, and de­fense con­tract­or Todd Wil­cox. The latest entrant is already mak­ing waves, as Re­pub­lic­ans at­tempt to tie him to former GOP Gov. Charlie Crist, who is now run­ning for Con­gress as a Demo­crat, and Demo­crats try to cut in­to his out­sider pro­file.

Ru­bio could still have an out­sized role in this race and the fight for Sen­ate con­trol. Thanks to few­er tick­et-split­ting voters, a Re­pub­lic­an win­ning the White House in Novem­ber would likely pre­serve the Sen­ate ma­jor­ity for the GOP.
Kyle Tryg­stad

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