In the last 24 hours, GOP leaders have thrown support behind Marco Rubio in his bid to be re-elected to the Senate. The highest-ranking Republican in Florida is not among them.
Gov. Rick Scott is instead publicly encouraging Carlos Beruff, a Bradenton developer with close ties to the governor, to challenge Rubio in the Republican primary.
“Carlos Beruff is a good friend of mine, a businessman and an outsider to politics,” Scott said in a statement. “The voters of Florida deserve the opportunity to consider his candidacy alongside Senator Rubio and make their own decision.”
Scott further drew a comparison to himself, saying he was a “political outsider” when he first ran for governor in 2010 and defeated Attorney General Bill McCollum in the Republican primary.
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The statement about Beruff is not far from the governor’s talking points ahead of the presidential preference primary in March: Scott publicly supported Donald Trump in a USA Today op-ed, but he refused to say he was endorsing the then-Republican frontrunner.
Asked if he would back Beruff, Scott adviser Melissa Stone reiterated a line in Scott’s statement: “Florida Republicans will pick the nominee on their own.”
Still, Scott’s remarks stand in stark contrast to other Florida Republicans.
The Republican Party of Florida released a statement Wednesday welcoming Rubio to the race and extolling him as a “bold leader who is focused on real solutions to the issues facing Floridians.” Scott’s Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera cleared the way for Rubio to run and stepped down from the primary.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee announced Wednesday it would give “full support” to Rubio.