News & Politics

Exclusive: Rubio Lobbied Cruz for His Support in Florida Senate Race

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Marco Rubio reached out to Ted Cruz to confirm his intent to run for reelection to his Florida Senate seat, according to sources familiar with the matter.

According to two aides briefed on the Tuesday phone call, Rubio asked Cruz to blast out a statement urging Rubio to run for reelection, “so it’s not just Mitch [McConnell]” asking him to do so, as one aide described it.

Those aides say Cruz declined, as he didn’t want to be accused of nudging out US Representative Ron DeSantis, the tea-party favorite in the race for Rubio’s seat. The aides say that Senator Mike Lee of Utah echoed that concern after Rubio approached him with the same request. A Lee aide confirmed that this conversation took place.

Though Rubio has not publicly announced his plans, those aides reiterated that he is, in fact, seeking reelection. The Florida senator said he wouldn’t run after he dropped out of the Republican presidential primary race in March. But his resolve appears to have been tested since, and he has deflected questions about his political future recently.

Florida operatives have for many days seen the writing on the wall: Following a Politico report in which Carlos Lopez-Cantera—a long-time Rubio friend—acquiesced to a Rubio reelection bid, candidates for Rubio’s seat have scrambled. Representative David Jolly has pulled out of the race, and a source close to DeSantis says that should Rubio seek reelection, “all signs points to Ron running for his congressional seat.” By all accounts, Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox intend to remain in the race.

A spokesman for Rubio did not return a request for comment.

Staff Writer

Elaina Plott joined Washingtonian in June 2016 as a staff writer. She has written about her past life as an Ann Coulter fangirl, how the Obamas changed Washington, and the rise and fall of Roll Call. She previously covered Congress for National Review. Her writing has appeared in the New York Observer, GQ, and Harper’s Bazaar.