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Matt Gaetz won’t challenge Marco Rubio in 2022, he says

But the Panhandle Republican may run for Florida agriculture commissioner, he tweeted.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., right, signs autographs before a President Donald Trump campaign rally at the Ocala International Airport, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Ocala.
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., right, signs autographs before a President Donald Trump campaign rally at the Ocala International Airport, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, in Ocala. [ PHELAN M. EBENHACK | AP ]
Published Jan. 19
Updated Jan. 19

Rep. Matt Gaetz has “no interest” in mounting a primary challenge to Sen. Marco Rubio in 2022, the Panhandle Republican said on Tuesday.

The remark, made on Twitter, came after a top Palm Beach County Republican floated the idea.

“If he ever thought there was a good time to step up to senator, now would be it,” Joe Budd, Palm Beach County’s Republican state committeeman, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “I’m going to encourage him to run.”

Budd said that President Donald Trump’s supporters in Florida “disdain” Rubio and wanted him gone.

Gaetz immediately shot down any speculation that he would take on Florida’s senior senator.

“In 2022 the only statewide position I would consider running for in the current political climate is Commissioner of Agriculture,” Gaetz wrote.

Nikki Fried, a Democrat, is the current agriculture commissioner and she faces re-election in 2018, though she is also considering a bid for governor. Senate President Wilton Simpson, a Trilby Republican, is rumored to have his eye on the job.

Gaetz recently won re-election to a third term in the House of Representatives where he has been one of Trump’s closest allies in Congress. He is a Fox News fixture and he led the charge to block the certification of Joe Biden’s electoral college victory earlier this month hours after the attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Rubio voted against that effort, calling it a “terrible idea.”

Tension between Rubio and Trump goes back to the 2016 Republican presidential primary, when the two clashed often. Rubio called Trump an “embarrassment.” He called Trump a demagogue and he predicted the world would lose respect for America under a Trump presidency.

Related: Rubio, who once suggested Donald Trump was too dangerous to have the nuclear codes, now defends him

After Trump was elected, however, Rubio rarely criticized the president and often found common ground with the administration on foreign policy. In the closing days of the presidential race, Rubio campaigned alongside Trump at a rally in South Florida.