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Trump hands Rubio coveted reelection endorsement in Florida

Former President TrumpDonald TrumpVeteran accused in alleged border wall scheme faces new charges Arizona Republicans to brush off DOJ concern about election audit FEC drops investigation into Trump hush money payments MORE on Friday endorsed Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioTim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls The unflappable Liz Cheney: Why Trump Republicans have struggled to crush her  Crist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job MORE’s (R-Fla.) reelection bid in Florida, throwing his support behind the incumbent senator and former GOP presidential primary foe in his adopted home state.

“It is my honor to give U.S. Senator Marco Rubio my Complete and Total Endorsement,” Trump said in a statement. “Marco has been a tireless advocate for the people of Florida, fighting to cut taxes, supporting our Second Amendment, our Military and our Vets, a strong national defense, and all of the forgotten men and women of America.”

In endorsing Rubio, Trump has put his political weight behind his former rival-turned-ally. Rubio competed with Trump in 2016 for the GOP’s presidential nomination, though he won only three primary contests in Minnesota, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. He suspended his campaign after finishing behind Trump in Florida.

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Rubio is seen as a potential contender for the 2024 Republican nomination, along with Trump, who has floated the idea of a comeback campaign after losing the White House last year.

Both Rubio and Trump are expected to appear at the Republican National Committee’s spring donor retreat in Palm Beach, Fla., over the weekend.

Rubio is seen as the obvious front-runner in the Florida GOP Senate primary and faces only nominal opposition from within his own party. Democrats, meanwhile, have yet to draft a top-tier candidate into the Senate race, though possible contenders include Reps. Val DemingsValdez (Val) Venita DemingsFlorida Democrats' midterm fantasy faceoff: DeSantis vs. Demings Running as a Democrat, Crist looks to join the smallest club in American politics Crist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job MORE (D-Fla.) and Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocrats confront difficult prospects for midterms Lawmakers brace for battles with colleagues as redistricting kicks off Demings mulling statewide Florida run in 2022 MORE (D-Fla.). 

For Democrats, more focus has been placed on rebuilding their struggling state party following a difficult four years in Florida. Trump carried the state in 2016 and 2020, and Republicans successfully ousted former Sen. Bill NelsonClarence (Bill) William NelsonCrist launches bid for Florida governor, seeking to recapture his old job The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Trump, Cheney trade jabs The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Biden sales pitch heads to Virginia and Louisiana MORE (D-Fla.) in 2018, giving the GOP control of both of the state’s Senate seats. 

Democrats also lost two House seats in South Florida last year after flipping them in 2018. The GOP now holds 16 of the state’s 27 seats in the lower chamber.

Still, Florida is considered a perennial battleground, and Democrats are expected to contest it aggressively in 2022, especially with Rubio and Republican Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisFlorida's new voting law immediately hit with lawsuits The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by ExxonMobil - Florida's restrictive voting bill signed into law Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee MORE on the ballot.