WASHINGTON - U.S. Republican Senator and former presidential candidate Marco Rubio will seek re-election to the Senate, reversing an earlier decision not to run.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Rubio said the Senate "can be a frustrating place" but "also a place from which great policy advances can be made."
Rubio's decision to run again for his Senate seat in the southeastern state of Florida reverses a promise he made last year that he would retire from the Senate if his run for the presidency was not successful.
Rubio dropped out of the presidential race in March after losing the Republican primary election in his home state of Florida to Donald Trump, who is now the party's presumptive presidential nominee.
Party leaders who want to keep the Senate seat in Republican hands are pleased with Rubio's decision. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told reporters before Rubio's announcement that Rubio's re-election would be "a great outcome."
Republican Congressman David Jolly, a candidate for the Senate seat, suspended his campaign Friday, making it easier for Rubio to seek re-election. Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez Cantera said he would no longer seek the party's nomination if Rubio chose to run in the August 30 primary election.
But Republican candidate and real estate developer Carlos Beruff has previously said he would remain in the race and criticized Rubio and Washington politicians in a statement Wednesday, saying: "This isn't Marco Rubio's seat; this is Florida's seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race. They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them.''
If Rubio wins the Republican primary election, he will face a Democratic challenger in the November general election. The Democratic front-runner is U.S. Congressman Patrick Murphy, who lashed out at Rubio for changing his mind.
"Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he's treating them like a consolation prize," Murphy said in a statement.
Also in the running for the Democratic nomination is Congressman Alan Grayson, a liberal firebrand.
Rubio's decision to run again came two days before a June 24 deadline to file for re-election.