Florida newspaper calls for Rubio resignation over missed votes

Hope they aren’t holding their breath. The editorial board of the Sun-Sentinel demanded today that Marco Rubio resign his seat in the Senate after Rubio called the upper chamber “frustrating” and has missed a number of votes while on the presidential campaign trail:

Rubio has missed more votes than any other senator this year. His seat is regularly empty for floor votes, committee meetings and intelligence briefings. He says he’s MIA from his J-O-B because he finds it frustrating and wants to be president, instead.

“I’m not missing votes because I’m on vacation,” he told CNN on Sunday. “I’m running for president so that the votes they take in the Senate are actually meaningful again.”

Sorry, senator, but Floridians sent you to Washington to do a job. We’ve got serious problems with clogged highways, eroding beaches, flat Social Security checks and people who want to shut down the government.

If you hate your job, senator, follow the honorable lead of House Speaker John Boehner and resign it.

The editorial comes with a video of editorial board member Dan Vasquez exhorting Rubio to “wake up.” Perhaps it’s Vasquez who should wake up, especially when it comes to Florida’s clogged highways and eroding beaches. Florida has a state government to deal with those issues, at least in practical terms, which seems a lot more direct than demanding action from Washington about Florida’s traffic. Ironically, if Rubio was casting more votes, they would likely go in that direction as well.

Still, some might sympathize to some degree with the sentiments expressed by the Sun-Sentinel’s editorial board. Rubio does get paid to conduct business in the Senate, and a presidential run is a distraction to that. Should Senators — or governors, for that matter — resign office if they run for President? Perhaps theoretically people might agree with that idea, but no one has ever paid a price for keeping their seats. And Rubio is hardly the worst offender, even in recent years, as an analysis on the history of missed votes by presidential contenders at Govtrack.us shows.

Earlier today, with the assistance of Politico’s Marc Caputo, I took a close look at current and former presidential contenders and their Senate voting records in the year prior to the election. Rubio ends up in the middle of the pack:

missed-votes-chart2

It’s true that Rubio has the highest percentage of missed votes among the five current Senators running for President, but Ted Cruz and Lindsey Graham are not that far behind. Rand Paul has missed the fewest votes among the GOP candidates, but he’s also running for re-election to the Senate in 2016, too, which Rubio is not. Barack Obama had a slightly worse record, while John McCain missed the majority of votes in 2007. However, John Kerry ended up missing almost two-thirds of votes in 2003 while he campaigned to catch up with Howard Dean, eventually overtaking him in early 2004 as the primaries began.

What happened to all of these “shirkers”? Obama won two terms as President, Kerry won re-election to the Senate in 2008, and McCain won re-election to the Senate in 2012. The reason for this is that voters generally understand that officeholders who run for the presidential nomination will take significant time away from the day job — in fact, it’s an expectation. Candidates who don’t go on the road to engage voters and respond to their concerns don’t get far. Missed votes don’t rise to a high level of concern, either in real time or in the rear-view mirror.

Caputo made the same point three weeks ago:

Rubio has received far more attention than the others, in great part, because his missed votes have been targeted by his opponents — publicly and loudly by Donald Trump, politely by Jeb Bush and more quietly by Bush’s supporters, many of whom back Rubio as a second choice. The criticisms of Rubio have driven more news coverage of the Florida senator’s record when compared to 2007 news accounts about Obama’s missed votes, according a Nexis database search.

Like Obama then, Rubio now has missed votes on issues over which he campaigns. But like Rubio’s campaign now, Obama’s campaign then dismissed his missed votes as inconsequential to the ultimate outcome.

If anything, these kinds of attacks helped Obama and could help Rubio, said Bill Burton, Obama’s spokesman who defended his candidate’s voting record in a November 2007 CNN story.

“It’s a massive mistake to attack him over something most people don’t care about. All it does is elevate Rubio into the discussion with Trump and Bush,” Burton told POLITICO. “The fact that we have President Barack Obama helps prove my point.”

The jab does no real damage to those who throw it, but also doesn’t do any damage at those to whom it’s aimed. The Sun-Sentinel’s high dudgeon speaks more about their lack of connection to reality than it does about Rubio’s work ethic.

Speaking of fantasy, Rubio has a new video out today showing his debate prep. But will the Sun-Sentinel approve? Breath is bated all around, natch.