Florida voters have supported Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, since 2000 when they elected him to serve in the Florida House of Representatives. In 2022, Rubio will once again be asking for their loyalty as he campaigns for his third term in the U.S. Senate.
“At the end of the day, our job is to solve problems and make life better for our constituents. That’s what I did in Florida and continue to focus on in the United States Senate,” Rubio told the Florida Political Review on why he has experienced political success in Florida.
Rubio was born in Miami as a child of two Cuban immigrants. His parents worked hard to support him and his siblings — his mother as a maid and his father as a bartender.
After graduating from the University of Miami Law School in 1996, Rubio began a long career in public service. He was elected to the city commission of West Miami in 1998 and became the youngest member of the five-person commission at only 26 years old.
One tape from his time on the commission shows Rubio arguing with another member over a voting issue. In a moment of exasperation, Rubio says, “I enjoy public service. I wanted to change the way things were, and I thought the best place to do it was in a small place.”
Rubio soon decided to set his sights on a position where he would have more power for change. A seat in the state legislature soon opened up, and he jumped at the opportunity.
Rubio was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000. He moved quickly through the ranks, becoming the majority leader in 2003 and then speaker in 2006.
Prior to accepting the position of speaker, Rubio compiled “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future,” a list of ways to improve state government based on Rubio’s experiences as a politician and his conversations with Florida citizens.
Based on a study published by PolitiFact in 2010, 24 of Rubio’s 100 ideas became law, and 10 more were partially enacted. Those that became law included education reform, changes to increase government efficiency, new insurance laws and more.
Rubio launched his first Senate campaign in 2009 after nine years in the Florida House of Representatives. A Quinnipiac poll in June 2009 showed that Charlie Crist, Rubio’s opponent for the Senate seat, was favored by 54% of registered Republicans over Rubio’s 23%.
Despite being the underdog early in the race, Rubio did not lose hope. In the end, he won the race with a comfortable majority of the vote and was able to embark on what has become a lengthy career in the Senate.
Since he began his time as a senator, one thing Rubio has focused on has been providing federal assistance to his constituents. In 2020, he created the Paycheck Protection Program, which helped small businesses and their employees stay afloat in light of the pandemic.
“It was a brand new program — really a brand new idea for the United States — and we created and implemented the program in a matter of weeks. All told, the program saved more than three million jobs in Florida and helped more than 430,000 small businesses in our state,” said Rubio.
In 2019, Rubio was awarded the Constituent Service Award by the Congressional Management Foundation. This award is geared toward politicians who interact and serve their constituents with excellence.
“This designation demonstrates that Sen. Rubio has made a significant commitment to being the best public servant for his constituents in Florida,” said Bradford Fitch, the President and CEO of the Congressional Management Foundation.
Rubio attributes his success in this area to his constituent services team.
“In many cases, they are literally the last hope for a veteran in need of housing, a widow denied a Social Security check or a family member denied a visa for a funeral,” he said.
Rubio has also spent time working on legislation concerning veterans, Everglades restoration and foreign relations. Given he represents Florida, he has also dealt with a lot of issues concerning recovery efforts after hurricanes.
All of these issues need long-term attention to achieve real change. Rubio plans to continue focusing on these areas if he is reelected in 2022.
In the upcoming election cycle, Rubio will be asking voters to reelect him based on the merits of his previous work as a senator. However, the Democratic Party has put forth Rep. Val Demings, D-Florida, whose unique background in public service may give her an edge with the voters.
Both candidates have only just begun campaigning, and they have a long road ahead of them until the election in November 2022. Rubio will have to do his best to showcase to voters that he is still the best choice for the job.
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Featured image: Senator Marco Rubio speaking at CPAC in 2015. Unmodified image by Gage Skidmore used under a Creative Commons License. (https://bit.ly/3kicvGc)