Rubio, Murphy headed toward November contest for U.S. Senate

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio was declared winner of the Republican primary by the Associated Press shortly after polls closed Tuesday across Florida.

Rubio had more than 70 percent of the early vote and mail-in ballots, putting him far ahead of Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff in second place, followed by two other longshot contenders.

Rubio, who dropped out of the Republican presidential field after badly losing the Florida primary in March to eventual nominee Donald Trump, was wooed into running by GOP Senate leaders who fear losing their majority in November.

On the Democratic side, party leaders were calling U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Jupiter the winner of the party’s primary to challenge Rubio in November. Murphy held a commanding lead over four other Democrats, with his closest rival U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson of Orlando.

Murphy, a political centrist, had been tapped by party insiders as Democrats’ best hope to capture the Florida Senate seat – well before Rubio’s decision to re-boot his campaign. Millions of dollars is expected to be poured into the state by both sides over the next two months in a contest seen as key to controlling the Senate.

U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy
U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy

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