Businessman Donald Trump defeated U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in the Florida Republican presidential primary on Tuesday, winning all 99 delegates on the line in the Sunshine State.
Trump declared victory in Florida even before polls closed in the parts of the Panhandle located in the Central Time Zone. The networks called Florida for Trump quickly after the polls closed in the Panhandle.
“Despite a record amount spent on negative and phony ads, I had a massive victory in Florida," Trump posted on Twitter as the votes came in.
With 65 percent of the total vote in, Trump was out front with 46 percent of the vote. Rubio garnered 27 percent while U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, stood in third with 16 percent of the vote. Gov. John Kasich, R-Ohio, who was focused more on defending his home turf in the Buckeye State which also held a winner take all primary on Tuesday, lagged behind with 7 percent.
Trump’s big win in Florida adds to his delegate lead though Cruz has been adamant that he intends to stay in the race, expressing hope he can beat the favorite in a one-on-one contest. Kasich pinned all his hopes on Ohio. As for Rubio, his dim hopes for the Republican nomination went out after getting blown out in his home state. Rubio is getting pressure to stay in the race to keep his delegates from going over to Trump but buzz has grown that the Florida Republican will end his campaign after losing Florida.
While Rubio did well in his Miami Dade home turf, Trump ran wild across most of the rest of Florida, ensuring a decisive victory in the Sunshine State.
Trump reeled in some major Florida endorsements in the final days of the campaign including former rival Dr. Ben Carson, who moved to the Sunshine State after he ended his celebrated medical career, and state Attorney General Pam Bondi who threw her support to the GOP frontrunner at an event in Tampa on Monday. Former Gov. Sarah Palin also stumped the Sunshine State for Trump over the weekend.
After serving four terms in the Florida House, including as speaker, Rubio ran for the U.S. Senate in 2010, defeating then-Gov. Charlie Crist in the Republican primary and eventually chasing him out of the GOP. Rubio is not running for a second term and will be out of the Senate following the general election.
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