Republican jumps into race for Rubio's seat

click to enlarge Republican jumps into race for Rubio's seat (2) - DeSantis for Senate
DeSantis for Senate
Republican jumps into race for Rubio's seat (2)

Just shy of a year and a half before most people give a shit, a Republican Congressman has joined Democrat Patrick Murphy in the race for the U.S. Senate seat Sen. Marco Rubio is leaving to run for "President."

U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, who won his seat in 2012, announced today he's ready for primetime.
The News Service of Florida reports he's launching his bid with a call for "limited government," which we assume means the Ponte Vedra Beach Republican would forfeit all the perks he gets for "serving" in Congress if he could, including not getting fired for doing almost nothing.

Here's what he said:

"America needs a new generation of leaders to address the big issues facing the country: alleviating the middle class squeeze and promoting economic opportunity, confronting the significant national security challenges threatening the safety of our people, and reforming the culture of Washington, D.C.," DeSantis said. "As a candidate for Senate, I look forward to offering reforms based on limited government principles that will make our country stronger and more prosperous."

DeSantis isn't exactly your sixpack-plumber-everyman. He got his B.A. from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard. He served as a judge advocate general officer in the Navy and is a lieutenant commander in the Navy reserves.

Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Allison Tant immediately blasted DeSantis, issuing a statement that sought to paint him as an extremist, reports the News Service of Florida.

"Congressman Ron DeSantis, the poster-boy for Washington's partisan extremism and dysfunction, is in for a rude awakening when he takes his Tea Party record on the road in Florida,'' Tant said in the statement.

She may be right.

The district he represents, Florida's 6th, is red, but not beet red; let's call it a rich burgundy. In 2012 DeSantis beat his opponent 58-42 in 2012 and won by a much larger margin in 2014 as an incumbent. And it was a presidential election year, the only time Democrats go to the polls, if Rick Scott still being governor is any indication.

In his first Congressional run, he received endorsements from Tea Party groups (and that was in a seven-person GOP primary. Nuts).

A couple years back, editor Pierre Tristam called DeSantis "an ex-corporate lawyer with the personality of a bookend and a push-button doll’s ability to parrot the right-most talking points in a whiny soprano voice."


He's already gotten a shout-out from one of these groups:

"Congressman DeSantis is a fiscal conservative leader who will bring much-needed leadership on important issues to the U.S. Senate,” said FreedomWorks PAC chairman Adam Brandon in a media release. “Congressman DeSantis has been a leader on everything from reducing federal spending, trying to stop ObamaCare, and opposing Common Core. I’m confident that our members will be very excited to help him win in November.”

In case you're wondering, FreedomWorks is a super-conservative group that advocates, ostensibly, for smaller government and lower taxes, and DeSantis is their first endorsement of the loooooong 2016 election season.

It's unclear whether he'll face a primary in August 2016 (!) in which he can let his colors shine.

While the roster of potential GOP candidates has gotten smaller and less big name-y, there are a few people out there who could serve as formidable competition.

Among these is Pinellas County's District 13 Congressman, David Jolly, who said he'll decide on whether to run after his wedding in the summer. Jolly congratulated DeSantis on the decision to run in what will probably be a tough primary, and said (unlike DeSantis) he's focused on doing his actual job and will let ya know if he feels like running for Senate, but don't wait by the phone or anything.

On the Democratic side, U.S. Rep Patrick Murphy has been touring the state for weeks now as an announced candidate.

Murphy was the guy who beat nutter Allen West in 2012. He's a moderate Democrat who's gotten the endorsement of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the U.S. Senate's electoral arm. 

Unlike DeSantis, Murphy is accustomed to campaigning in a swing district, and may find it easier to appeal to voters statewide (Jolly, too, actually).

Here's the nonchalant statement Murphy's people sent out after DeSantis announced:

"Floridians want fresh, new leadership in the U.S. Senate. I am running to end the gridlock in Congress, strengthen Social Security and Medicare, and empower the middle class to succeed. I look forward to sharing my vision with Floridians across the state over the course of this campaign."

It's unclear whether Murphy will have a primary opponent either. Orlando-area U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is considering jumping in. Grayson has strong appeal among progressive Democrats, so things could get interesting for Democrats as well.

Regardless of whether that happens, let's put the timeline on this and other 2016 races into perspective.

Six years ago, when Rubio first ran for this seat after Sen. Mel Martinez vacated, at this point in the campaign (May 6th, 2009), Rubio was 24 hours into his official run, and then-governor Charlie Crist was six days from announcing he's also like to run for Senate — in a Republican primary against the lesser-known Rubio.

Just under a year later, Crist made history by dropping out of the Republican party and running as an Independent (and splitting the Democratic vote; many progressives wanted Kendrick Meek, the Dem nominee, to win).

So a lot can happen in a year. 

We're in for a fun ride.

Well, a few of us are, anyway.

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