Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Credit: Facebook
Following polls suggesting a close U.S. Senate race in Florida, a national conservative group on Friday endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio for his “conservative, grassroots campaign” and criticized his Democratic opponent for being “a puppet for Nancy Pelosi.”
Billed as the nation’s largest Tea Party-related political action committee, the Tea Party Express has supported Rubio since 2010.
In a press release Friday, the group blasted U.S. Rep. Val Demings, the likely Democratic candidate to win Tuesday’s primary election to face off against Rubio in November.
“His opponent Val Demings parades around as a moderate, but is simply a puppet for Nancy Pelosi, voting with her 100 percent of the time,” organization co-founder Sal Russo said.
“Democrats are determined to take down Sen. Rubio, which is why we need every Florida voter to get out and vote and make sure we keep Marco Rubio in the United States Senate,” Russo, continued.
The original Tea Party movement emerged during the first term of President Barack Obama, the first Black president. Members positioned themselves as antigovernment and against the established Republican Party in Congress.
Rubio, a Republican and former Florida House Speaker, is seeking a third term in the Senate but Demings, a former Orlando police chief, had gained an edge in a poll released Tuesday by the University of North Florida’s Public Opinion Research Lab.
Of those surveyed, 48 percent stated support for Demings, compared to 44 percent for Rubio. Seven percent said “they would vote for someone else.”
Another poll released last week by progressive groups showed Rubio and Demings “each with 45 percent support” among those surveyed, Florida Politics reported.
Demings has been traversing the state as part of a statewide 100 Days Tour, according to her campaign.
Her latest rally was in Kissimmee on Thursday, where “she met with hundreds of supporters” and “spoke about her fight to beat Marco Rubio and send a voice for every Floridian to the United States Senate.”
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