Marco Rubio, a "tea party" movement favorite, was elected to the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, easily winning a three-way race that included Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, a one-time rising star in the Republican Party.
The victory means a conservative will take over the Senate seat now held by a more moderate Republican. The Senate's division between the major parties won't change, but the GOP will continue its move to the right.
Democrat Kendrick Meek, who ran third, waged what has been a traditional Democratic campaign in this midterm cycle, backing the Obama administration's efforts on economic stimulus, healthcare insurance overhaul and Wall Street regulation. Even though such Democratic stars as former President Clinton campaigned for him, Meek never really was the focus of the three-way race.
In 2008, Florida Sen. Mel Martinez decided to leave his seat after one term. Polls at the time showed that he likely could be reelected.