Photo by Monivette Cordeiro
Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera advised supporters Wednesday that he will end his campaign for the U.S. Senate if longtime friend Marco Rubio decides to seek re-election.
During a failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, Rubio said he would not run this year for another term in the Senate. But various media outlets reported Wednesday that Rubio is reconsidering the decision in the aftermath of a mass shooting early Sunday at a nightclub in Orlando.
"Obviously, I take very seriously everything that's going on —- not just Orlando, but in our country,” Rubio told reporters, according to The Hill, a Washington-based publication. "I enjoy my service here a lot. So I'll go home later this week, and I'll have some time with my family, and then if there's been a change in our status I'll be sure to let everyone know."
Rubio, who is scheduled to headline a Miami fundraiser for Lopez-Cantera on June 24, the last day of qualifying, has faced mounting pressure from national Republicans to enter the race, which could help determine control of the Senate. Without Rubio, the race is considered a toss-up as the Democratic and Republican candidates are not widely known.
Rubio, who sits on the Committee on Foreign Relations, has pointed to his friendship with Lopez-Cantera as a hurdle to entering the race.
The two Miami Republicans jointly viewed the Orlando carnage on Sunday.
"As friends for 20 years, this race is so much bigger than the two of us, and, as you have heard me say on the trail, this race isn't about an individual, this race is about Florida and the future of our country," Lopez-Cantera said in an email to supporters Wednesday. "I am still in this race and nothing has changed. However, if Marco decides to enter this race, I will not be filing the paperwork to run for the U.S. Senate."
The email by Lopez-Cantera came a little more than a week after a Mason-Dixon poll found that nearly half of likely Florida voters, including 77 percent of Republicans, think Rubio should go back on his pledge and seek a second term in the Senate. Just 16 percent of Republican voters were opposed to Rubio running.
The poll also found none of the Republican candidates in the race had more than 20 percent support. Lopez-Cantera scored 9 percent of the GOP primary vote and was deemed favorable by 10 percent of likely Republican voters, yet was unrecognized by 67 percent.
A decision by Rubio to run would ripple into a number of down-ballot races.
U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican, has said he will make a decision to continue his Senate run or seek another term in the House. If Jolly drops from the Senate race, he is expected to run against former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat, for a Pinellas County congressional seat.
Republican candidates Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox, both businessmen, are expected to remain in the race.
Wilcox filed his qualifying paperwork on Wednesday, while a release from Beruff's campaign reiterated that he wasn't planning to step aside for a "career politician."
"Carlos Beruff has traveled to all 67 counties in Florida, and the people of Florida have made one thing abundantly clear: They value real world experience more than political experience," Beruff campaign spokesman Chris Hartline said in a prepared statement. "They're sick of career politicians and power-brokers in Washington who care about one thing: holding on to power."
Others running for the Senate seat include Republican Congressman Ron DeSantis and Democratic Congressmen Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson.
Florida Democratic Party spokesman Max Steele was among those quickly jumping on the news that Rubio's rumored entry into the race was closer to reality.
"It's almost like you could say he's a shameless opportunist attempting to use a tragedy to boost his career," Steele tweeted.