Absence makes the heart grow desperate. Marco Rubio, who said, "I am leaving the Senate. I am not running for reelection,” during a nationally televised debate last fall, has changed his mind and is running for reelection.
This move comes hardly more than a year after Hillary Clinton stopped saying that she had no interest in running for president, months after Paul Ryan said he would definitely not become house speaker, and only a day after a senator reportedly being vetted as a possible Clinton VP pick "silently winked" at a reporter who asked about it.
Rubio tweeted in May, "I have only said like 10000 times I will be a private citizen in January." This could still be true; he did lose the state of Florida during the presidential primary. Ohio Governor John Kasich, whose 2016 campaign doubled as an audition to be the next host of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and who ended up netting fewer delegates than Rubio, even managed to win his state.
The latest poll on the race — which includes Rubio, because everyone knew this day would come as he has been in politics for 18 years and has no career skills despite aspiring for elected positions more alluring than the one he currently has — does have him beating his potential Democratic rivals, however. This race will be different from his first Senate campaign, which took place during the 2010 Tea Party sweep. He won't be running during the midterms this year, which makes the race much more competitive. It's also going to be massively expensive; more than $18 million has already been raised by the candidates involved. Rubio's presidential campaign still has to pay off nearly $2 million in debts.
The Senate race should feel somewhat familiar to Rubio, who has spent much of the last year on sabbatical. Like the Republican presidential race, it is teeming with candidates — including a real-estate developer, businessmen, a bunch of state politicians, and a sheriff's deputy. The GOP was also terrified that they were going to lose the election until they drafted a candidate better than the one who seemed destined to win the primary.
Rubio, whose chief character traits are being "charismatic and ambitious," or exactly like 90 percent of all politicians, is sure to campaign on all the uplifting moment that defined his time as a senator, like when he told a newspaper in Florida less than a year after swearing in, "I can't think of a single real high point," or when he validated his ability to influence policy by noting during a presidential town hall, “We’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen.”
In his note explaining his change of mind, Rubio notes another reason he decided to run — a chance to be a major and highly visible voice of disagreement during a Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton administration, a role that becomes much easier if you work in a place that's already teeming with lecterns from which to hold court, and much harder if you're just a lobbyist with fading federal cred tweeting out in the wilds of Florida. Which brings to mind another Rubio tweet that was sent moments after one of about 10,000 times he spoke and no one listened: "As for future in politics, well it's nearly impossible for someone not in office to ever become a successful candidate for President.Right?"
2020 isn't too late to keep talking about making the 21st century a "new American Century," is it? “What I’m done making is unequivocal statements about anything at this point,” he told the Miami Herald when asked about his future plans. Only 9,999 more times to go.