Sweet victory for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who clawed back from defeat in the Florida Republican primary eight months ago, to win reelection to the U.S. Senate Tuesday.
It is a significant win for the Republicans, who were still struggling at this hour to hold onto their majority in the Senate.
When CNN called the race at 8:25 p.m. EST, 8,870,141 votes had been cast, with Rubio leading 52.18 percent to Democratic challenger Patrick Murphy's 44.12 percent.
Rubio beamed at his victory party. “This is a lot better than the last time I did one of these in Miami,” he told his supporters.
When the next new day dawns, he said, Job No. 1 will be to begin the healing. “We can disagree on issues, but we cannot share a country where people hate one another,” he said.
Congratulations via Twitter came in quickly from Rubio's former presidential opponents, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz.
Republican Party of Florida Chairman Blaise Ingoglia was the first to issue a statement, congratulating Rubio "on a well-deserved victory. This nation is at a pivotal crossroads and throughout his career, Rubio has proven himself a steadfast and distinguished conservative leader committed to holding government accountable. Once again, our great state rewarded the senator’s dedication to public service and protecting the founding principles of this country. We look forward to working with him to restore the trust and confidence the American people want to have in their government.”
The South Florida Cuban vote skewed mightily in favor of Rubio, a first-generation Cuban American who has always made his home in Miami.
Murphy, a congressman representing mostly the Treasure Coast, was wildly outspent during the campaign, particularly after the national Democratic Party appeared to throw in the towel on his race, spending on more competitive races elsewhere. The Dems reneged on a $15 million ad buy.
In the end, the Rubio campaign had a $36.8 million war chest; Murphy, who badly needed to raise his name recognition, spent $22.5 million.
Murphy, too, had come under fire for embellishments in his resume, allegations of involvement in a straw donor scheme and lacklustre accomplishment after four years in Congress.
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