Florida's Marco Rubio wins re-election in Senate race

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who decided to seek a second term after launching a failed bid for the Republican presidential nomination, was re-elected Tuesday.

Rubio defeated Democrat Rep. Patrick Murphy, a two-term congressman with a reputation as a moderate.

Rubio sought a second term with just two days before the deadline to make the ballot and after repeatedly saying he would not seek re-election.

"Let's say this is a lot better than the last time I did one of these," he joked with supporters, referring to his failed presidential campaign earlier this year.

Rubio had sought the GOP nomination for president, but dropped out of the race after Donald Trump soundly beat him in the Florida primary. Trump taunted Rubio during the primaries calling him “little Marco” and painting him as a candidate not yet ready for prime time.

Still, many speculate the 45-year-old senator will eventually make another presidential run.

Rubio's entry into the Senate race immediately gave the party its best shot at holding the seat. Outside groups pumped millions of dollars into the race to help ensure the victory.

Murphy at one point nearly closed the gap in the polls despite national Democrats diverting their money from Florida to Senate races, where television ads are less expensive. Republicans attacked Murphy for embellishing his resume by claiming to be a small business owner and a certified public accountant before being elected to Congress in 2012.

Murphy was a part owner of an environmental cleanup company, but the business was set up by his wealthy father, and he was a licensed CPA in Colorado, but not in Florida, where he worked at an accounting firm.

Murphy repeatedly criticized Rubio for saying he still supported Trump even after calling the billionaire a dangerous, erratic man who couldn't be trusted with the nuclear codes. Murphy also called out Rubio for missed votes and intelligence briefings while running for president, and questioned whether he would serve his full six-year term.

Rubio wouldn't make that commitment until the candidates' first debate, when he said, "God willing," he will serve the entire term.

Rubio won his seat in 2010, using a Tea Party wave to come from behind and beat then-Gov. Charlie Crist.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.