Rubio Should Quit The Senate

[ Posted Tuesday, January 5th, 2016 – 17:47 UTC ]

From the wires today comes a short story about Senator Marco Rubio being asked about his missed votes in the Senate. His answer? Congress can't change much anyway. "We're not going to fix America with senators and congressmen -- presidents set the public policy agenda." This begs another question: Why are taxpayers still paying Rubio to not do his job? If Rubio had the strength of his own convictions, he would quit his Senate seat and concentrate on his bid for the Oval Office. That way he could be replaced by someone who has more interest in actually performing the duties of the office.

This isn't all that outrageous a suggestion to make, because Rubio only has one year left in the Senate no matter what happens. Whether he is successful in his run for the Republican nomination or not, he's not going to be in the Senate one year from now. The AP article incorrectly states that Rubio "chose not to run for re-election as a senator from Florida as he pursues the presidency." The truth is, Florida law prohibits him from running for two offices at the same time. Rand Paul faced a similar dilemma in Kentucky, but Paul convinced his state's legislature to change the election law to permit him to simultaneously run for president and senator. Rubio did not, so he's not running for the Senate -- but he didn't choose this path, it was in fact dictated by state law.

This means Rubio will exit the Senate in one year's time. But since he has such contempt for his own office, why should he continue to serve for another year, while doubtlessly missing many key votes (to say nothing of other day-to-day duties he may also be shirking)? More to the point, why should taxpayers continue to pay him a princely sum (over $170,000 a year) to play hooky out on the campaign trail?

I've always respected politicians (regardless of party) who don't run a "Plan B" campaign for a lower office while simultaneously campaigning for the presidency (or for any other higher office, for that matter). For one, it shows commitment to the cause and confidence in the chances of winning the big prize. Throughout history, there have been plenty of such cases to point to as good examples. There have also been plenty of politicians who have gambled and lost, but who later have bounced back and won other offices instead (moving from the Senate to the governor's office, for instance). Just because you leave one political office doesn't mean your political career is over, in other words, although sometimes it does work out this way.

Quitting the Senate would even help Rubio's campaign for president. After all, it's a pretty "outsider" year on the Republican side, and it's kind of hard to be an outsider when you're firmly entrenched inside Washington, right? Rubio could spin his Senate exit as a symbol of disgust with the system, and the Republican base would probably react pretty favorably. There's no love for political bigwigs right now among Republican voters, and this would put to rest in a dramatic way all the questions about missed votes that have been dogging Rubio for weeks now. If he quits, he won't have any more votes to miss (to be blunt).

As things stand, Rubio's spin is rather weak. "The Senate can't get anything done" is fine for someone not serving there, but for a senator it just prompts the followup question: "Well why are you still there, then?"

Within the party establishment, Rubio would also do himself some good by stepping down. Republican Rick Scott, currently Florida's governor, would get to name Rubio's successor, to fill out the rest of his term. This would allow a handpicked successor who would have a big advantage in the open race currently underway to replace Rubio in the Senate. It wouldn't guarantee a win, but it would tip the odds in the incumbent's favor. By appearing selfless, Rubio could gain some support from within his own state's Republican Party. And winning Florida is almost required for any Republican who hopes to gain the winning 270 Electoral College votes in November.

Marco Rubio is obviously frustrated with the limitations of being a senator. He's openly expressing his frustration. This may be pure political spin designed to counter the questions about his absences from important votes, but perhaps Rubio really does feel this way (giving him the benefit of the doubt, in other words). If Marco Rubio truly does believe that it is downright pointless to be only one of one hundred senators and that the office is so unimportant he doesn't even have to bother to show up to vote, then why should he not just walk away? If he feels he can't get anything done by staying, then he should devote all his time and energy to winning an office where he can show some leadership, as he himself puts it. It would give someone else a chance at achieving something in the Senate in his place, it would allow Florida's governor to handpick Rubio's successor, and Rubio could easily spin it on the campaign trail as his ultimate rejection of Washington. He could even use walking away from the Senate as a way to attack fellow senator Ted Cruz, in fact. Rubio could proudly say something along the lines of: "He's still part of the problem, but I no longer am because I wised up!" In this election cycle, Republican voters would likely accept that logic as being perfectly valid.

When it gets right down to it, there are many reasons Marco Rubio should quit his Senate seat, as an extension of how he already feels about the office. By his own statements, he's preparing the ground for just such a bold political move. There are multiple reasons why quitting would actually help Rubio in his presidential campaign. In fact, there's really only one reason Rubio would continue as senator instead of doing the honorable thing and stepping down early. That reason, plainly, is that Rubio would have to forego that $174,000 of the taxpayers' money he'll continue to get in his paycheck all year long -- for not doing his job.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


10 Comments on “Rubio Should Quit The Senate”

  1. [1] 
    Paula wrote:

    In fact, there's really only one reason Rubio would continue as senator instead of doing the honorable thing and stepping down early. That reason, plainly, is that Rubio would have to forego that $174,000 of the taxpayers' money he'll continue to get in his paycheck all year long -- for not doing his job.


  2. [2] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Forbes ran an article on Rubios's very modest net worth (100K$), less than frugal spending choices and large debts. That 170K$ salary must look awfully comforting to him, even if it looks just awful when somebody shines a light on it.

  3. [3] 
    Mopshell wrote:

    Oh yeah, Rubio is definitely staying for the paycheck though I do wonder if there are other reasons as well. I'm thinking in terms of contacts... staying in the loop with Beltway media, lobbyists, big donors, the RSC. All of these groups could be providing him with handy step ladders of one kind or another - and he's not going to admit to any of it because it sounds as mercenary as it is.

  4. [4] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    There is also the possibility that if Rubio does poorly enough in Iowa and NH that he drops out, in which case he might want to continue in the Senate and incumbency would be helpful.

  5. [5] 
    neilm wrote:

    The Republican field is just looking weaker and weaker:

    1. The Donald - really?
    2. Cruz - the most despised man in politics by his own party
    3. Rubio - not really a strong establishment candidate

    Why are they even bothering, unless they think right wing populism can take them to the White House?

  6. [6] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    Well, he's already being paid for doing nothing MOST of the time, so why not be paid for doing nothing ALL of the time? it's just truth in advertising.


  7. [7] 
    John From Censornati wrote:


    Florida law apparently prohibits anyone from appearing on the ballot twice and Rubio chose to run for president. I think it's too late to change his mind about that because of the filing deadline.

  8. [8] 
    Speak2 wrote:

    JFC: Do primary and GenElection deadlines change. Are you in the know on this or are you just guessing (I'd just be guessing concerning dates, though I'm aware of the FLA prohibition).

  9. [9] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    I don't really know more than what I said. I was recalling what was reported at the time he made his decision. I would guess that he could still run as a write-in or independent in the GE, but the GOP will have nominated somebody else.

  10. [10] 
    Mopshell wrote:

    According to the Politics1 site the Florida deadline for federal seats is 6 May 2016. While it is the case that Rubio has already announced his retirement from the Senate, I don't know if this means he can change his mind about retirement if he drops out of presidential contention prior to the filing deadline for Senate candidates.

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