March 23, 2015 / 12:07 PM / 5 years ago

Florida Rep. Patrick Murphy announces bid for U.S. Senate seat in 2016

(Reuters) - Democratic Florida congressman Patrick Murphy said on Monday he would run in 2016 for the U.S. Senate seat held by Marco Rubio, a high-profile Republican who is considering a presidential bid.

In a statement announcing his candidacy for Senate, he emphasized his background in business and accused Rubio of putting his political future ahead of the state.

“For years, Senator Rubio has put the needs of Floridians behind his presidential ambitions,” Murphy said. “We need a leader in the Senate whose eyes are firmly fixed on the people of Florida by working together to get things done.”

A onetime Republican who switched parties after becoming disillusioned over the Iraq war, Murphy has demonstrated strength in a traditionally conservative region in southeastern Florida. He defeated incumbent Allen West, a tea party conservative, in Florida’s 18th congressional district in 2012 and was re-elected last fall to a second term.

Florida is the largest U.S. swing state and is considered up for grabs in the 2016 presidential race. It could have a competitive Senate contest regardless of Rubio’s decision on whether to seek the presidency or re-election for a second Senate term.

Reporting by Colleen Jenkins; Editing by Bill Trott

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