After making a personal investment of $8 million into his own U.S. Senate campaign, Manatee County residential developer Carlos Beruff lost to Republican incumbent Marco Rubio Tuesday night.
With his party’s nomination secure, Rubio is now on path to defend the Senate seat he’s held since 2010 and potentially help the GOP retain its majority in the U.S. Senate in November.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Rubio had more than 1 million votes, or 72 percent, to Beruff’s 263,135 votes, or 19 percent.
Beruff wrote what he calls an “op-ed” titled “Why I Ran for the U.S. Senate.” An excerpt of the piece:
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“Critics will say it was a fool’s errand to stay in the Senate race. They will say we had no chance of beating Rubio, and they will say I wasted money. But of course, critics are most often those people who lack the courage and commitment to enter the arena.”
While still critical of Rubio, Beruff said in the statement that he will vote for Rubio, calling him “the best of the remaining options.”
Even before Tuesday’s results, Rubio was already looking past Beruff and shifting his campaign to a general election contest. During campaign stops over the last two weeks, Rubio trained his sights more on U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, the winner of Tuesday’s Democratic primary, more than Beruff, whom he refused to debate and rarely mentioned by name on the campaign trail.
In the Democratic primary, Murphy had more than 659,000 votes, or 59 percent, with 99 percent of precincts reporting. Grayson had more than 198,000 votes, or 18 percent; and Keith had more than 172,000 votes, or 15 percent.
Rubio took 68 percent of the vote in Manatee County, compared to Beruff’s 24 percent, with all 70 precincts reporting. Patrick Murphy won 70 percent of the Manatee County Democratic vote. Pam Keith came in second and garnered 15 percent; Grayson received 10 percent.
In Sarasota County, Rubio had 70 percent to Beruff’s 21 percent, with 74 of 101 precincts reporting. Murphy had 74 percent to Keith’s 12 percent and Grayson’s 11 percent.
Beruff built his campaign around blasting Rubio for his poor Senate attendance record while he was running for president and trying to plant seeds of doubt in Republican voters’ minds about whether Rubio would even serve out a new six-year-term or leave early to run for president again. Beruff also tried to align himself with Donald Trump, frequently mentioning the he, too, is a businessman running for office for the first time. But Trump never embraced Beruff, instead publicly endorsing Rubio during campaign stops in Florida.
Companies connected to Beruff’s residential development company, Medallion Home, also spent $35,000 split between seven other 2016 Manatee County races.
Beruff will rely on Medallion Home to recoup what he spent on his Senate run. The company recently began preselling homes starting at $249,000 in its Parrish community, Cross Creek. Medallion Home is also constructing a 110-home community Waverley, in Sarasota off of Proctor Road.
Rubio will face Murphy in the Nov. 8 general election.
Herald/Times Tallahassee bureau reporters Jeremy Wallace and Kristen M. Clark contributed to this report.
Beruff’s $35,000 campaign donation breakdown
Companies connected to residential developer Carlos Beruff donated the most to Manatee County Commission candidates Ronald Reagan and Stephen Jonsson.
- $10,000 to Manatee County Commission District 1 candidate Ronald Reagan
- $10,000 to Manatee County Commission District 3 candidate Stephen Jonsson
- $7,500 to Manatee County Commission District 5 candidate Vanessa Baugh
- $2,500 to Manatee County Clerk Angelina Colonneso
- $2,000 to Manatee County School Board District 1 candidate Xtavia Bailey
- $2,000 to Manatee County Sheriff candidate Charles “Rick” Wells
- $1,000 to Manatee County Property Appraiser Charles Hackney
Source: Manatee County Supervisor of Elections website