Rubio, Murphy prevail in Fla.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy each easily won their Senate primaries Tuesday, setting up a November showdown that’s guaranteed to be nasty as each party grapples for a majority in the chamber.
Rubio, who decided at the last second to seek a second term, easily fended off millionaire homebuilder Carlos Beruff, and Murphy used the backing of President Barack Obama and other Democratic leaders to defeat U.S. Rep Alan Grayson, who was counting on his party’s most faithful liberal voters to overcome Murphy’s money and establishment support.
In Arizona, Sen. John McCain easily defeated Republican primary challengers, advancing to the general election in a U.S. Senate race.
In other races, U.S. Rep. Corrine Brown lost a primary as she faces felony fraud charges. She was one of the first African-Americans elected to Congress from Florida since Reconstruction. U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who recently resigned as Democratic National Committee chair, won her primary – the first tough race since being elected to Congress in 2004.
Rubio’s and Murphy’s victory speeches set the tone for the Senate race.
“Marco Rubio is the worst of Washington because he puts himself first every time. He gave up on his job. He gave up on Florida. He earned the worst voting record for any Florida senator in 50 years,” Murphy said shortly after polls closed.
Rubio spoke about an hour later and said Murphy has lied about his education and his career and is only successful because of his wealthy father.
“How can someone with that kind of record think he can be elected to the U.S. Senate? The answer is he has a sense of entitlement, because when everything you’ve ever had in your life is given to you, you think you deserve it all,” Rubio said.
Rubio had declared during his failed presidential campaign that he would not run again for Senate. But he nearly cleared what had been a crowded GOP field with his last-minute turnabout.
Beruff rolled the dice to see if the anti-establishment mood powering Donald Trump’s presidential campaign could send him to Washington as well. But after spending $8 million of his own money and going nowhere in the polls, he essentially shut down his campaign ahead of the primary.
“I voted for Marco only because I’ve been a longstanding supporter,” said Diane Martin-Johnson, 66, after voting early Tuesday in Pinellas Park. “It’s unfortunate he didn’t do his job fully in Washington this term. I do think he deserves another chance. He thought he was doing the right thing [by running for president]. That’s my only complaint against him. He’s a good man.”