Four Republicans qualified for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Marco Rubio, who in the final days decided to run for re-election. Rubio’s challengers are Carlos Beruff, Ernie Rivera and Dwight Mark Anthony Young.
In this post, I’ll first take a look at the money, then share what I learned about the candidates.
I was surprised at how much of the story was told by the candidates’ federal campaign finance filings. Through June 30:
Rivera does not have a chance against Beruff and Rubio, given his limited funding through March 31. He didn’t file the second quarter report that was due July 15.
Young filed his Statement of Candidacy on July 5; no other information about his campaign finances is available on the federal website
Beruff seems to plan to buy his way into the Senate. Having seen his TV ads, I was surprised to realize that he had spent $4.4 million, including over $4 million of his own money, through June 30 … and who knows how much more since then? How much does it cost to buy a Senate seat? His ads these days tie him to Trump and Scott. Will that do it?
Rubio’s money is interesting. Individual contributions through June 30 totalled $1.7 million; he also had Party Committee contributions of $46,800 and Other Committee contributions of $450,100. No loans to his own campaign. And through June 30, only $173,870 of expenditures. Time will tell what he does with the money.
With that look at the money, let’s turn to the candidates.
Marco Rubio is Florida’s junior U.S. Senator. He is 45 years old, born in Miami in 1971 of Cuban immigrants. He has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida (1993) and a law degree from the University of Miami (1996). Two years after law school, he entered politics as Commissioner – City of West Miami, where he served for two years before running successfully for the Florida House of Representatives. There, he served the maximum eight years, the final two as Speaker. Bypassing the Florida Senate, he then ran for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Mel Martinez (R) in 2009. Rubio won in a three-way race with 48.89 percent of the vote, beating challengers Charlie Crist (Independent – 29.71 percent) and Kendrick Meek (Democrat – 20.20 percent of the vote).
His website lays out his positions on seven issues:
- Florida water (“pass the Central Everglades Planning Project”);
- America’s seniors (“protecting” them);
- Farmers and Ranchers (“getting government out of the way of”);
- Second Amendment (“protecting the sacred rights” of gun owners);
- Reforming the VA;
- American Strength (“building” the military; calling out “radical Islam”);
- Taxes (reforming the tax code).
His website is marcorubio.com, his Facebook page is here and he’s on Twitter @marcorubio.
Carlos Beruff is a Florida real estate developer who founded Medallion Home in Bradenton, FL, in 1994. Born in 1958, he is 58 years old. Like Rubio, he was born in Miami to Cuban immigrants. He attended Stetson University, then the University of South Florida, but did not earn a degree.
ABC7 said he is “one of the wealthiest developers in Southwest Florida” whose political influence was “fueled by campaign contributions to then Florida Governor Charlie Crist.” He has never held elective office, but served as a 2008 Crist appointee on the boards of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the State College of Florida and the Manatee-Sarasota Airport Authority, which overseas the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport. He supported Crist in the 2010 Senate election, but then “shifted his allegiance to Governor Rick Scott, who appointed him to his health panel and reappointed him to positions already held.”
Beruff “talks to Scott at least once a week”, and Scott endorsed him in June.
A Google search on Carlos Beruff reveals self-professed business mistakes and a $235,000 tax avoidance scheme that Democratic Senator Bill Nelson also benefited from on a lesser scale (see here). In 2010, Medallion Homes was accused of building homes with contaminated Chinese drywall.
Beruff lists 13 issues on his website:
- Obamacare (“a disaster”);
- Jobs and Economy (“the Obama Administration has done nothing but hurt businesses and slow job creation”);
- Energy and Environment (“pro-environment is not anti-business”);
- Life (“no principle is as important as the sanctity of life”);
- 2nd Amendment (“our founding fathers gave all Americans the right to bear arms”);
- Immigration (“a country without borders is not a country at all”):
- Foreign Policy (“America’s standing in the world has been unconscionably diminished”);
- National Security and Terrorism (“the threats to our national security are growing by the day”);
- Veterans (… “they have given us everything”);
- Education (“I’ll fight to end Common Core”);
- Cuba (“President Obama’s Cuba policy is personally offensive to me”):
- Spending & the National Debt (“I’ve built a business so I know … about living within your means”);
- Protecting Our Seniors (“I will never support anything that would hurt current retirees”).
Beruff was the only major Republican candidate to remain in the Senate race after Rubio reversed previous statements and decided to run. He uses his support for Trump in attack ads against Rubio. See here.
His campaign website is carlosberuff.com, his Facebook page is here, he’s on YouTube here and on Twitter @carlosberuff.
Ernie Rivera was born in Tallahassee in 1958 and is of Puerto Rican heritage.
He says “his goal is to take back the country for the Lord and move forward with/for US citizens, Floridians, and the wonderful Puerto Rican people.”
His website lists six issues, each with considerable detail.
His website is ernierivera.com, his Facebook page is here, and he’s on Twitter @ernierivera2016.
Dwight M. A. Young
Dwight Mark Anthony Young is a Detention Deputy working for the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. He is 50 years old and has a B.A in Political Science from Queens College New York.
In a “Meet the Candidate” piece, Young said, “I have decided to run for the US Senate because of what I see as the political betrayal of our Political leaders in regards to the Constitution of America. I see it as my civic duty to do something about this problem.”
I could find no campaign website or Facebook Page and very little about Young online.
According to a June 29 Naked Politics | Miami Herald post titled “Poll: Marco Rubio leads Carlos Beruff by 64(!) percentage points,” Rubio “trounced” Beruff 71–7 percent in a June 27–28 poll of 750 likely voters, with 18 percent of voters undecided. Rivera and Young each got 2 percent of the vote.
The two leading candidates in the Democratic Senate primary are Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson.
A Quinnipiac University poll taken June 30 – July 11 had Rubio beating Murphy by 13 points and beating Grayson by 12 points. Quinnipiac writes, “The breadth of Sen. Rubio’s lead against Rep. Patrick Murphy, who has the backing of the Democratic leadership, is impressive. He has a 19-point margin among independent voters and scores 10 points better among Republicans than Murphy does among Democrats.” The same poll shows Murphy beating Beruff 40/34, and a Beruff/Grayson race tied at 38/38.
The Real Clear Politics polling average for 6/15 – 7/11 shows Rubio beating Murphy by 4.4 points, and beating Grayson by 7.3 points.
Hopefully, this information will help inform your decision. Now it’s up to you.