Marco Rubio decisively defeated Patrick Murphy on Tuesday night, earning a second term in the U.S. Senate by a margin of about 51 percent to 45 percent.
Supporters at the Republican senator's watch party at the Hilton Hotel near Miami International Airport erupted into cheers shortly after 8 p.m. when the Associated Press called the race.
The outcome wasn't necessarily surprising -- Murphy struggled with name recognition while Rubio based his campaign on his Senate accomplishments and earned a place on the national political stage in an unsuccessful campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
But that was all right for Rubio, who in his victory speech expressed gratitude to Floridians for his re-election and said he and his Senate colleagues need to "set a better example of how political discourse should exist in this country."
That message resonated with Miami resident Stephanie Eckardt, who was at Rubio's watch party.
"I'm really looking forward to continuing seeing him increase the dialogue across party lines and identifying solutions that are going to be beneficial for all citizens of Florida, and the nation," she said.
Eckardt said she thinks Rubio will be able to encourage bipartisan collaboration regardless of who’s elected president.
Nadav Alkoby, another Miami resident at the event, said he's excited to see Rubio continue to challenge the Iran nuclear deal.
"To really defeat terror takes a global effort, and no one understands this better than Marco Rubio," he said, pointing to Rubio's efforts to urge the European Union to classify Hezbollah as a terror organization.
At home, Alkoby added, Rubio will be a leader who helps check and balance politicians in all branches of government.
"Know that he's in the Senate is going to hold every leader accountable," he said.
Murphy calls for unity
Patrick Murphy took the stage just after 8:40 p.m. at his election party at the Palm Beach Gardens Marriott. “Look, we were expecting and hoping for a different result this evening,” Murphy said. “But the people of Florida have spoken. And at the end of the day, I respect their choice.” Murphy said he spoke with Rubio and wished him luck. And he stressed to his supporters: it’s time to unite and move forward. “Senator Rubio and I obviously have our differences - you all saw the debates,” Murphy said. “But, at this point it’s important that we come together and do what’s best for Florida.” Phyllis Taylor came to the party from Miami Beach. She’s a family friend of the Murphy’s and has known Patrick since he was 4-years-old. “I think there was a name recognition issue,” Taylor said. “And I think that’s unfortunate.” Taylor thinks Murphy may run for office again.