It’s only Tuesday, and it’s already been a bad week for national Republicans with yet another recruiting failure in the Florida Senate race. Tom Rooney was the latest in a slew of Republicans to pass on a potential Senate bid, leaving the GOP scrambling to find a candidate to run for the seat.
Here’s a recap:
RUBIO OUT, DESPITE NRSC BEGGING. Even after begging Marco Rubio to run for reelection, the NRSC was unable to convince him to run for his seat instead of mounting a presidential bid.
BONDI SAYS NO THANKS. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi performed well in early polling of the GOP field, but she passed on the race in early April.
ATWATER PASSES, SETS UP GOP “NIGHTMARE.” Jeff Atwater was considered a potential frontrunner in the race, but he was quick to dash Republicans’ hopes of avoiding a messy primary in the state. He passed on the race before Marco Rubio launched his presidential campaign. As Politico put it, “The Rubio and Atwater decisions are setting off the very type of nightmare scenarios Republican Party leaders were hoping to avoid in Florida.”
WEATHERFORD OUT. Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford drew interest after likely frontrunner Jeff Atwater passed on the race, but he quickly dashed any Republican hopes and announced he would not run in 2016.
ROONEY PASSES AS GOP SCRAMBLES. This week, Rep. Tom Rooney announced he would not run for the seat. As the Palm Beach Post reported, his announcement comes as “Republicans have been scrambling to find a top-tier Senate candidate.”
WHY IT MATTERS…
Cook Political Report, Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report, and Sabato’s Crystal Ball have all moved Florida’s Senate race from leaning Republican to tossup since news of Rubio’s announcement. National Republicans are already facing a bleak map and an endangered majority in 2016, and their failure to recruit a strong candidate for the contest in Florida only complicates matters further. As top-tier candidates continue to pass on the race, Republicans are likely to face a messy and expensive primary in the state.
A former NRSC senior official put it best when he described the Florida Senate race, saying “It’s a problem.”