On the presidential campaign trail, Rubio had trashed Washington. But the Rubio who returned to the Senate was not that Rubio. He threw himself into legislating with new vigor, especially as he sought funding to fight the outbreak of the Zika virus, which hit his state hard. McConnell noticed his young colleague on the floor more often, and he suspected all the talk about hating the Senate had been a facade for Republican primary voters.
McConnell asked Rubio to reconsider his decision not to seek reelection. When Rubio didn’t show up for one of the Senate Republican Conference’s weekly lunches, McConnell told his fellow senators to seek him out and urge him to run again. Ward Baker, the executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), organized a parade of phone calls from friends and supporters back in Florida pushing Rubio to get back in the race.
By Memorial Day, Rubio had all but decided to enter the field. He made it official in June, citing the devastating mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub.
Sen. Rob Portman’s (R) campaign had focused on the number of jobs Ohio lost during Strickland’s tenure in office, a term that overlapped with the 2008 recession. Those attacks sent Strickland’s favorable ratings plunging 10 points between March and June, and his unfavorable ratings soared even more than that. Before Labor Day, Republicans had spent an incredible $35 million making the case against Strickland.
...Indiana was not what Democrats hoped.
Portman’s advantage: “The flip side of being a longtime D.C. insider is a mountain of money,” a top Democratic strategist lamented.
Bayh began to look like a candidate whose time had passed, like Tommy Thompson or George Allen before him. He had been a great candidate when he ran in 1998 and 2004; by 2016, he lamented to the Indianapolis Star, politics had changed — and, he may have implied, left him behind.