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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

After humiliating defeat, Rubio dominates Florida

Marco Rubio during his victory speech in Kissimmee.

Screen shot from live stream

Marco Rubio during his victory speech in Kissimmee.

31

August

More than five months after losing all but one of Florida’s 67 counties in the presidential primary, Marco Rubio won them all Tuesday night in the Senate primary.

Rubio got roughly 365,000 more votes than Democrat Patrick Murphy, who also won big with 59 percent of the vote but lost seven counties to Alan Grayson.

Rubio took 72 percent of the vote; Murphy got 59 percent, though faced more competition.

The overwhelming victory speaks to Rubio’s stature as a sitting senator, already widely known across Florida, and the exposure he gained in the presidential run -- factors that were no match for Carlos Beruff and his $8 million.

The same name ID and experience gives Rubio a lead-off advantage over Murphy. After the presidential run, Rubio is skilled in debates (robo performance aside) and Wednesday morning he challenged Murphy to six of them.

The candidates went after each other hard last night, outlining a host of policy differences. They also pursued other avenues of attack. Rubio couldn’t resist reminding the TV audience that Murphy comes from wealth while he is the “son of a bartender and a maid.”

Will biography matter?

Will ambition?

Rubio’s fans across the country chimed in on Twitter with congratulations and laments that he, not Donald Trump, was taking on Hillary Clinton. Murphy and Democrats have already begun to hammer away at the idea that Rubio wants to get back into office so he can run for president. Rubio, who broke a promise not to seek re-election, won’t say if he’ll serve out the entire six year term.

Trump too could be looking at Rubio’s success Tuesday and thinking his one-time rival may now be his ticket to victory in Florida. That could make Rubio’s already awkward dance with Trump even more interesting to watch.

[Last modified: Wednesday, August 31, 2016 9:07am]

    

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