WASHINGTON (AP) - Former Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio will run for re-election to the Senate, yielding to intense pressure from party leaders determined to keep his Florida seat in GOP hands.
Rubio was to reveal his plans later in the day Wednesday, according to a GOP official who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the official announcement. It was a reversal for Rubio, who had announced his retirement from the Senate and was expected to enter the private sector before making another run for president in 2020.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters ahead of official word from Rubio Wednesday that a re-election bid would be "a great outcome" that would likely mean Republicans would hang onto the Florida seat.
McConnell had led the effort to pressure Rubio to abandon his retirement plans and run for re-election instead. With Republicans at risk of losing their slim Senate majority in November's elections, GOP leaders were concerned that the Republican candidates who'd emerged for Rubio's seat were not up to the task of winning in a large, expensive state like Florida amid the intraparty uproar created by Donald Trump's candidacy.
The expected announcement comes just days ahead of Friday's filing deadline for Rubio's seat. Rubio had made clear he was rethinking his plans, especially after the massacre in Orlando underscored the numerous challenges facing the country.
A couple of the Republicans already in the race, including Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera, had made clear they would make way for Rubio if he chose to run in the Aug. 30 primary. But that was not true of all of them. GOP developer Carlos Beruff lashed out at Rubio in a statement Wednesday saying: "This isn't Marco Rubio's seat; this is Florida's seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race. They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them."
Democratic leaders' preferred candidate is Rep. Patrick Murphy, but Murphy must first get through the primary against liberal firebrand Rep. Alan Grayson.