Florida Dem announces Senate run
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Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) will run for Senate in 2016 in a bid for Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico The Hill's 12:30 Report Colbert mocks Trump for sipping water during speech on Asia trip MORE's (R) seat, regardless of whether the latter decides to seek the GOP presidential nomination.

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“I’ve spent the last several months considering the best way I can continue to serve the people of Florida," he said in a statement Monday morning announcing his candidacy.

"After much thought and discussion with people from across this state, I’m proud to announce that I will be a candidate for the United States Senate in 2016."

He also hit Rubio for prioritizing his political ambitions ahead of the state.

“For years, Senator Rubio has put the needs of Floridians behind his presidential ambition," he 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."

Many potential candidates are waiting for Rubio to make a move on a much-expected bid for president, a decision that could completely change the calculus of any race. Rubio leads in hypothetical match-ups with Murphy, including a recent poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Research, as well as a September poll from Public Policy Polling.

But the popular Florida senator has said he'd only run for one office, and a decision to leave his Senate seat vacant could upend the race.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and former Fla. Gov. Charlie Christ (D-Fla.) have ruled out Senate bids. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) could emerge as a more liberal challenger to Murphy if he decides to enter the field.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee welcomed Murphy to the race by launching a new website, PatrickMurphy2016.com, which pans the freshman lawmaker as selfish and ineffective. It also criticizes his father for donating more than half a million dollars in support of his election.

“Patrick Murphy is an overly ambitious Washington politician who needs to grow up and the United States Senate doesn’t have a kids table,” NRSC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said in an email.

“No matter how much money Murphy’s dad pours into the race, we’re confident Floridians will reject his candidacy because of his fierce support for ObamaCare which cuts $716 billion from Medicare.”

--This report was updated at 8:37 a.m.