Marco Rubio clears the GOP field ahead of Florida primary

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio talks to the media in the wake of the Orlando nightclub shooting in June. Rubio is widely expected to prevail in the Florida Senate primary on Tuesday. File Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI. | License Photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla., Aug. 30 (UPI) — Florida voters will decide a Republican Senate primary that only a few weeks ago looked to be one of the most competitive in the state’s history. Six candidates, all who struggled to distinguish themselves in the crowded field, looked to replace retiring Sen. Marco Rubio.

Then, as GOP senators in Washington began to fret about their general election chances, the pressure mounted on Rubio to reverse course and make a late entry into the race.

After weeks of pressure, Rubio did just that, and is now expected to win Tuesday’s primary handily after all but one of the other candidates bowed out of the race.

On the Democratic side, Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are squaring off. Murphy, a moderate, is the favorite in that two-way race after scandals surrounding Grayson, a liberal firebrand, emerged. Grayson’s ex-wife accused him of domestic abuse.

With both Rubio and Murphy expected to prevail Tuesday, the candidates have already begun to train their fire on one another for the general election.

There is another battle to watch in Florida, where Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, is facing a liberal challenge from attorney Tim Canova, who has received an endorsement and a large financial boost from former presidential candidate and Wasserman Schultz foe Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Sanders and Wasserman Schultz clashed bitterly during the Democratic presidential primary, with Sanders accusing the DNC of favoring Hillary Clinton. When hacked DNC emails emerged showing precisely that, Wasserman Schultz was forced to resign.

Since before bowing out of the presidential primary, Sanders has used his substantial online fundraising prowess to benefit Canova, a first-time candidate, raising hundreds of thousands for his long shot campaign.

Despite resigning as DNC chairwoman, Wasserman Schultz, a veteran of south Florida politics, is expected to prevail.


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