Sorry, GOP. Marco Rubio is still not running for reelection

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio rkoltun@elnuevoherald.com

Sorry, Republican Party. Marco Rubio is still not running for reelection.

The proof? A new invitation to a fundraiser for Senate candidate and Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera — headlined by Rubio himself.

The reception will take place on the evening of June 24. The deadline for Florida candidates to qualify for the Aug. 30 primary ballot is noon that same day. Having Rubio as the top-billed “special guest” at the fundraiser shows the Republican incumbent has no plans — as he’s said in the past — to put his name up for contention.

Rubio decided not to seek reelection last year, when he chose to run for president. Yet since leaving the presidential race after losing the Florida primary in March, he has shown renewed interest in the Senate. And Republican leaders on Capitol Hill, fearing Rubio’s competitive seat could flip to Democrats in November, have openly campaigned to get Rubio to run again.

“Nothing’s changed,” Rubio told reporters in Miami on Friday when he was asked, yet again, about a potential re-election bid.

Instead, Rubio has repeatedly pointed to Lopez-Cantera, saying having his longtime friend in the race makes moot any questions about his running again. Similarly, Lopez-Cantera has dismissed any notion that Rubio would renege on his word. Rubio has already raked in cash for Lopez-Cantera in Washington and on the phone.

Meantime, Lopez-Cantera’s campaign has benefited from the attention drawn to him by Rubio — and from the effect the Rubio-might-run rumors have had on Republican donors across the state, who in some cases have waited to write checks to Lopez-Cantera’s competitors as they wait for the qualifying deadline to elapse.

For Lopez-Cantera, the fundraiser is a coming-out party of sorts. It will take place at Coral Gables’ ritzy Biltmore Hotel and feature a who’s who of Miami-Dade County Republicans — led by a key Rubio financial backer, billionaire auto magnate Norman Braman.

A slew of other Rubio supporters are also listed as organizers. The other special guests are Miami’s three Republicans in Congress, Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (who endorsed Jeb Bush and then Rubio for president), and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (who endorsed Donald Trump).