- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 29, 2016

Sen. Marco Rubio cracked opened the door to running for re-election to the Senate, offering a definite “maybe” last week when asked if he’d be up for another term in the chamber he spent the last year lambasting.

Top Republicans have seized on the opening. The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee urged him to come back, as did Donald Trump, the man who chased Mr. Rubio from the GOP presidential race with a devastating defeat in the Florida primary.

But Rubio confidantes say it’s not going to happen, with less than a month to go before the June 24 filing deadline in Florida, and a handful of Republicans — including a personal friend of his — already in the race.

“I think there’s no shot in hell Marco runs for his seat again. He’s crossed that bridge. Marco needs to make money. He has four kids in private school and to put through college in near future,” said Ana Navaro, a Florida-based GOP strategist and Rubio ally. “He has no trust fund or nest egg. Marco told me the first week after being elected that he did not want to ‘be a lifer’ in the Senate. I think that’s true. He’s impatient and lives life quickly.”

Just as important, he’s “far from a shoo-in to win” in November, Ms. Navaro said.

When Mr. Rubio jumped into the presidential race last year, he vowed not to simultaneously seek re-election to his Florida seat, which he won in the 2010 midterm elections as part of the tea party wave.

His seat is now among the half-dozen most vulnerable Republican-held seats this year, and Mr. Trump said Mr. Rubio running again would help their chances of keeping control of the Senate. “Run Marco!” Mr. Trump said in a Twitter post Thursday.

The Senate Leadership Fund, a political action committee aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, vowed to back Mr. Rubio if he runs.

Mr. McConnell, Kentucky Republican, and Sen. John Cornyn of Texas also ratcheted up the pressure on Mr. Rubio to get in the race behind closed-doors, CNN reported.

The response has exposed concerns about the Republicans lining up for the seat: Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera; Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly; Todd Wilcox, a defense contractor, and Carlos Beruff, a real estate developer.

Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson, as well as Pam Keith, an attorney, are running on the Democratic side.

For his part, Mr. Rubio has said that he “maybe” would have rethought his decision if his friend, Mr. Lopez-Cantera was not seeking the spot.

“I said I wasn’t going to. He got into the race,” Mr. Rubio told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.” “I think he’s put in time and energy to it and he deserves the chance to see where he can take it.”

Mr. Rubio, who tussled with Mr. Trump in the presidential campaign, appears ready to mend the rift, saying he would consider speaking on Mr. Trump’s behalf at this summer’s convention.

“I want to be helpful. I don’t want to be harmful,” Mr. Rubio told CNN.

Kyle Kondik, of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, said the Republican Senate field in Florida is “weak” without Mr. Rubio, whose decision is likely tied to his future political aspirations.

Rubio may be sensing it’s better to mend fences, but whether that’s wise is an open question: Trump could win the presidency and be well-remembered, but there’s also a decent chance that his candidacy is not well-remembered and that endorsing him won’t look so good in the future,” he said. “So it’s a tough choice for Rubio.”

Some analysts caution that Mr. Rubio would have a lot to lose if he took a stab at a second term and say he could struggle in a political environment where there is a limited appetite for anyone who comes off as a professional politician. “In a way it would look like, ‘You didn’t win that one, so you are going to run for this one?” said Susan McManus, political science professor at the University of South Florida.

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