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Marco Rubio Wins Reelection, Outrunning Donald Trump in Florida

Sen. Marco Rubio will win reelection, NBC News projects, defeating Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy.
Image: Marco Rubio
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio acknowledges the cheers from supporters after winning a second term in office. Rubio defeated U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, a two-term congressman.Wilfredo Lee / AP
/ Source: NBC News

Republican Marco Rubio will be reelected to the U.S. Senate, defeating Democratic Rep. Patrick Murphy, according to NBC News.

Rubio's victory comes as Donald Trump remains locked in a tight race in the state. With the victory, Rubio maintains his option to launch another presidential bid in 2020. Many Florida political observers widely expect that, despite his recent insistence he plans to serve out his full Senate term, "God willing." Some saw that as a caveat meant to leave open the door to another run.

Rubio's decision to run for reelection after dropping out of the GOP presidential race put what looked to be a likely Democratic pickup back into play, and questions over whether Murphy fabricated parts of his biography hobbled the Democrat early on.

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National Democrats withdrew funding from the race weeks ago, leaving Murphy to fend for himself in a move that was seen as an early death knell for the congressman and the result of his under-performing expectations.

Murphy worked hard to paint Rubio as an opportunist, pointing to the senator's reversal of his initial staunch declaration he wouldn't run for reelection — and his refusal to commit to serving out a full term — as evidence the Florida Senator was only looking out for himself, and not the people of Florida. In a play for the state's sizeable Latino population, Murphy also tied him to Trump at every turn after Rubio endorsed Trump in the general, pointing to the senator's comments that Trump was a "con man" who he wouldn't trust with the nuclear codes during the presidential primary.

But Democratic operatives in the state say Murphy took the Latino vote there for granted, noting that polls showed much of the state's Latino population didn't know anything about him.

It's the second competitive seat of the night that Republicans managed to hold onto, after Ohio Sen. Rob Portman easily won reelection.