Aug. 29, 2016 — Arizona and Florida voters go to the polls tomorrow in what has become the most important of the late summer primaries.
Today, we cover Arizona and half of the competitive Florida campaigns. Tomorrow, the remaining Sunshine State races will be updated. Resulting from the court-ordered mid-decade redistricting changes and an unusually large number of open seats, competition is developing in no less than 17 of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Both states also host critical Senate contests.
• Senate: Sen. John McCain (R) is seeking a sixth term after originally winning in 1986, four years after his initial election to the House. What was thought to be a potentially competitive Republican primary at the outset seemingly fizzled when McCain drew a lesser primary opponent. For a time, it appeared that either Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa) or Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) might enter the statewide contest, but neither chose to do so. In fact, Rep. Salmon would later decide to retire altogether.
Former state Senator Kelli Ward, who resigned her position in order to spend her full energies in challenging McCain, has raised about $1.5 million, but it would likely require more in the way of resources and outside support to deny the veteran incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee a re-nomination victory. Expect Sen. McCain to do better than his 56 percent Republican primary performance in 2010.
By Jim Ellis
June 24, 2016 — As expected, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) officially reversed course and announced that he will file for re-election. His action put in motion other political moves.
As promised, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R) announced that he is ending his Senate campaign, deferring to his long-time friend. Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) exited the Senate race late last week in anticipation of Rubio returning and simultaneously declared that he would attempt to seek re-election to the House.
In north-central Florida, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), another Senate candidate, also stated that he, too, would leave the Senate race and now likewise retreats to seek re-election to his US House seat. Unlike Rep. Jolly, who had been laying the groundwork for a House return for a couple of weeks, Rep. DeSantis had kept his plans to himself. This led to speculation that he might not re-enter the congressional race, since six Republicans were already running, and instead sit out the 2016 election and file for the open attorney general’s position in 2018.
June 22, 2016 — It appears that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will change course and run for re-election after repeatedly saying he would not. GOP leaders, fearing they would lose the seat without him, have apparently prevailed upon him to seek re-election after exerting intense pressure. We will know for sure very shortly, because the state’s candidate filing deadline closes Friday afternoon.
But, Rubio’s decision will not only affect the Senate race. Two House district campaigns could also drastically change if he launches a new campaign.
Already, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) has left the Senate race and returns to his Pinellas County congressional district to fight an uphill battle for re-election in an unfavorable post-redistricting seat. The state Supreme Court drew a new 13th CD that greatly favors the Democrats, and party switching former Gov. Charlie Crist will be Jolly’s general election opponent.
June 20, 2016 — The Florida Senate race could soon be changing in a major way. With the June 24 filing deadline closing in on all Florida politicos, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running out of time to decide whether he will reverse his previously stated position and seek re-election.
The stage is set for his return, but is re-entering the Senate race the right move for him? Certainly Republican leaders think Rubio running again would be best for the party. The Florida campaign is going to be one of the most important and talked about during the general election cycle and Senate Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have made no secret of their position that Rubio should run.
Now we see at least two active Senate participants saying they would end their campaigns if the senator were to declare. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), who Rubio has repeatedly praised as being a worthy successor, made the public statement earlier this week that should the incumbent and former presidential candidate want back in, he will exit, stage right.