U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio cruised to victory in the Republican primary on Tuesday, easily brushing aside multi-millionaire Carlos Beruff who spent $8 million of his own money trying to knock him out office.
With his party’s nomination secure, Rubio is now on path to defend the Senate seat he’s held since 2010 and potentially help the GOP retain the majority in the U.S. Senate in November.
Even before Tuesday’s results, Rubio was already looking past Beruff and shifting his campaign to a general election contest. During campaign stops over the last two weeks, Rubio trained his sights more on U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, his likely Democratic challenger, more than Beruff, whom he refused to debate and rarely mentioned by name on the campaign trail.
Beruff built his campaign around blasting Rubio for his poor attendance record while he was running for president and trying to plant seeds of doubt in Republican voters minds about whether Rubio would even serve out a new six-year-term or leave early to run for president again. Beruff also tried to align himself with Donald Trump, frequently mentioning the he, too, is a businessman running for office for the first time. But Trump never embraced Beruff, instead publicly endorsing Rubio during campaign stops in Florida.
After Rubio lost his presidential bid in March, he told reporters he was determined to return to private life and bow out of politics. But national Republicans had other plans, putting on an aggressive campaign to draft Rubio into the race out of fear that Beruff and any of four other Republicans in the early running for the GOP nomination would ultimately lose the seat.
Rubio finally relented in June, two days before the filing deadline and announced he would seek re-election. One of the key reasons for his change of course, he said, was to help Republican retain the majority in the U.S. Senate to assure the GOP has greater influence in who will be appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.