Editorial: Rubio running on a thin record

Published June 23, 2016

Marco Rubio is not the first politician to put opportunity before consistency, which is why he surprised no one Wednesday by announcing he would reverse himself and seek re-election to the Senate. Republicans may see Rubio as their best hope for retaining control of the Senate, but his entry into the race gives Floridians a chance to question Rubio's record and his presence in Florida.

Rubio's move came in the days after some Republicans contending for the seat cleared out, opening the door for him to seek another term after his failed presidential bid. Rubio had said repeatedly he would not seek re-election. And again on Wednesday, he called the Senate a "frustrating" place. But Rubio said the presidential race changed the dynamics, as the winner of Florida's Senate seat could shape the incoming administration's foreign policy and Supreme Court nominees.

Rubio, a career politician, may frame his move as selfless, but it keeps him in the public eye as a frontrunner for another Senate term, and in a prime spot to launch a bid for the White House in 2020. On that score, voters should note that a six-year Senate term would run through 2022 and that the often-absent junior senator would be campaigning for another office with the majority of his elected time still to serve.

More immediately, though, Rubio's decision gives Florida voters an opportunity to judge his thin record in the Senate, his tortured policy on immigration and his out-of-step positions on Cuba, guns, climate change and other major issues. And where has Rubio been for the past six years? Many communities would need to form a search party to discover that Florida has two members in the Senate. This race should be a reminder that this office cannot be taken for granted.