U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., threw his support to state Rep. Mike Miller, R-Orlando, to challenge U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., in 2018. After knocking off longtime U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., last year in an upset, Murphy is a top Republican target in 2018.
Rubio announced on Monday that he was backing Miller who represents parts of Orange County in the Florida House.
“I’m proud to announce my support for Mike Miller for Congress today,” Rubio said. “Jeanette and I have known Mike and Nora for many years, and like us, they are raising their children and serving in public office, all while balancing the same challenges Florida families do every day. Mike is a tireless advocate for Central Florida and will bring his conservative values to Washington and give me a great partner to work with in the Congress.”
“I am humbled to have the support of a champion for conservative values like Senator Rubio,” Miller said. “I admire his passion for issues impacting Florida families and his commitment to working across the aisle on important topics like human rights, veteran’s affairs, and childhood cancer research.”
The endorsement puts Rubio at odds with a longtime ally of his. Last week, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera announced he was backing Sanford businessman Scott Sturgill to take on Murphy.
Lopez-Cantera, who served in the Florida House with Rubio, got out of the way last year when his fellow South Florida Republican decided to seek a second term in the U.S. Senate. After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando last summer, Lopez-Cantera reached out to Rubio and asked him to run again, ending his own Senate bid in the process.
Even as Miller and Sturgill continue their campaigns, they could be joined soon by other Republican candidates. Other possible Republican hopefuls looking to dethrone Murphy include Seminole County Tax Collector Joel Greenberg and state Sen. David Simmons.