Republicans have lost a Senate seat in Florida, but not before they took a beating in the GOP primary runoff election.
A runoff between Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Democratic challenger Alex Sink is shaping up to be a battle between a strong-armed establishment candidate and a more grassroots candidate.
Sink’s campaign manager, David O’Keefe, accused the Rubio campaign of attempting to “muddy the waters” in the race by sending out a statement accusing Sink of not being a “true conservative.”
But Sink, a retired Army officer, said his opponent, a former Florida governor, is a true conservative.
“I am a true Republican,” Sink said.
“We’ve worked together in the Legislature, we’ve worked on legislation together.
We’ve talked about all of the issues.”
Sink beat Rubio in the Democratic primary runoff in November.
But the campaign was not a cakewalk for the Sink campaign.
Rubio and his allies tried to keep Sink off the ballot until after the November general election.
“He’s going to spend a lot of time on the airwaves trying to make sure he doesn’t win,” O’Malley said.
Rubio has raised more than $2 million in the primary, according to Federal Election Commission filings.
The campaign spent $4.3 million on ads and $2.6 million on mailers in Florida during the primary and runoff, according in Federal Election Committee filings.
But Sinks campaign also outspent Rubio by $1.8 million, according a Bloomberg Politics analysis of campaign finance data.
Sinks lead is likely to grow as the race continues, but his margin of victory is less than half that of Rubio.
Rubio, a Florida native, was a Republican congressman from Miami-Dade County until the Senate failed to pass a health care overhaul.
In the early 2000s, Rubio worked as a top aide to former President George W. Bush.
He later ran for Senate, winning the seat from a Democratic incumbent.
Rubio is the son of a Cuban-American father and a Mexican-American mother.
He has been active in Florida politics for years, including running for state attorney general and as a state senator.
Rubio served as Florida’s attorney general from 2008 to 2012, when he left office to become president of the University of Florida.
Rubio said in a statement that he will continue to fight for Florida families and voters, but said his primary campaign will focus on his accomplishments as a legislator and as governor.
He will use his time in Congress to push policies to “reform our broken immigration system,” and he will “work with the American people to restore our democracy,” Rubio said.