TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Democrats will have a U.S. Senate primary involving two sitting congressmen, as expected, but a waiting game continues on the Republican side.
U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson joined U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy in the Aug. 30 Democratic primary by submitting qualifying papers and paying a $10,440 fee on Tuesday, the second day of a weeklong qualifying period for state and federal races.
Meanwhile, a number of Republicans appear to remain in limbo, waiting for U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio to decide if he will seek re-election or continue his planned exit from office.
Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox have qualified for the Senate contest. But GOP Congressman Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera — a close friend of Rubio’s who has agreed to step aside if his fellow Miami-Dade Republican wants to run for re-election — have yet to complete the qualifying process.
The inaction by DeSantis and Lopez-Cantera hasn’t been lost on Beruff.
“If you have to wait and see what Marco Rubio is going to do, you’re probably running for the wrong reasons,” Beruff said in a prepared statement Tuesday. “My campaign isn’t about political calculation. My campaign is a cause. I’m focused on bringing real change to Washington because the career politicians have screwed things up so badly.”
Rubio told CNN on Tuesday, in an interview outside his office, he had yet to make up his mind.
“When I’m ready to make an announcement, I will, either way,” Rubio told CNN. “Right now, we’re focused on some other things here regarding our work, OK?”
In the Democratic contest, Grayson and Murphy will appear with at least two other candidates: Jacksonville attorney Reginald Luster and former San Diego businessman Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente.
Murphy, whose paperwork and qualifying check were submitted June 6, was deemed qualified for the contest on Monday.
Murphy’s campaign sent out of a release Tuesday focused on Grayson, saying the Orlando Democrat is not qualified for the Senate due to issues such as public disputes with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and questions about a Grayson hedge fund.
But Grayson, a favorite of many progressives, responded that more-conservative “blue dog Democrats,” such as Murphy, don’t inspire voters.
“There is one person who has won statewide in Florida twice in less than six years now, and his name is Barack Obama,” Grayson said. “And no one ever accused Barack Obama of being a blue dog.”
Grayson also used his trip to the state Division of Elections office to push state lawmakers to take action on gun legislation after the June 12 massacre that killed 49 people at an Orlando nightclub.
Grayson, after submitting paperwork to qualify for the Senate race, was driven two blocks to the state Capitol so he could tape copies of Connecticut’s assault-weapons ban on the doors of the House and Senate chamber doors.
“It is far too easy to kill too many people, too quickly,” said Grayson, who didn’t meet with any lawmakers while in the Capitol. “Only an assault weapons ban will solve that problem, with any effect in the near future.”
Qualifying ends at noon Friday, with dozens of congressional and legislative candidates already making the ballot Monday and Tuesday. Among the qualifiers Tuesday was former Senate President Tom Lee, a Brandon Republican who had earlier faced speculation that he would run for the Hillsborough County Commission instead of seeking another term in Tallahassee.
The News Service of Florida’s Jim Turner contributed to this report.