Love him or hate him, you gotta hand it to Florida conservative Marco Rubio. In June 2009, Rubio, an early favorite of the burgeoning tea party, trailed then-Republican Charlie Crist in primary polling by more than 20 percentage points. Yet he only gained momentum throughout his primary campaign. He grew so popular—in April 2010, he'd flipped the primary on its head, beating Crist by 23 points—that he forced Florida governor to declare himself an independent and abandon the GOP primary to salvage his chances in November. And again, in the general election, Rubio overcame Crist's polling advantage over the summer to open a wide lead by the fall, outpacing Crist and easily distancing himself from Democratic candidate Kendrick Meek. Rubio's victory tonight, just called by CNN, has been a lock for months.
So what can we expect from Senator Marco Rubio? Put simply, the Miami native is a purist conservative's dream. Rubio has called for permanently extending the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts and slashing taxes on American corporations. He also wants to permanently end the estate tax (he calls it the "death tax") and slash a host of other taxes.
As for the unemployed, you're out of luck in Senator Rubio's eyes. In July, amidst a fight in Congress over extending unemployment benefits to millions of Americans, Rubio said Congress shouldn't extend jobless benefits unless cuts are made to offset that spending—even though it's common practice, among Democrats and Republicans, to pass said benefits without immediately funding them because they're deemed emergency spending.
Next on Rubio's to-do list is repealing the health care reform bill, passed earlier this year, and blocking any efforts to pass cap and trade energy legislation. Rubio also opposes any new efforts to pass a "card check" bill in Congress, legislation that would make it easier for workers to unionize. In other words, every major piece of policy Democrats have passed or pursued in recent years—yeah, Rubio's against it.
What remains to be seen is what stance he'll take on immigration reform, a looming issue for the 112th Congress. As MoJo's Suzy Khimm reported in May, Rubio initially criticized Arizona's hard-line immigration bill, which gave police more power to question and detain illegal immigrants. However, Rubio soon backtracked on that criticism and softened his take on the Arizona bill. Keep your eyes on how Rubio approaches a potential immigration bill in the new Congress.