William Thomas is an out, gay black judge from Miami. Last year Senator Marco Rubio was the one who recommended Thomas to fill a vacant seat on the Federal circuit. It would be a watershed moment in American politics with Thomas being the first gay black judge to serve on the Federal bench.
The fact that Rubio — a conservative Republican — gave Thomas’ name to President Obama seemed to indicate that Rubio might have been one of the few elephants who paid attention to the results of the 2012 elections, seeing the huge change coming to America in terms of the LGBT community. However, something has obviously shifted in Rubio’s calculus, as he has now withdrawn his support for Thomas and is keeping his nomination in limbo.
It wasn’t that long ago that Time Magazine claimed that Senator Rubio was the GOP’s savior. They reasoned that he is young, of Latino descent, and it seemed that with his dropping of Thomas’ name to Obama for a seat on the Federal circuit, indeed it looked at first like Rubio was on the right path. He even got in on the Gang of Eight to help craft comprehensive immigration reform.
Yet in blocking the nomination of Thomas over what he says are concerns he has about the judge’s “leniency,” it’s apparent that Rubio has one thing in mind — 2016. He knows he’ll have to look super-hardcore-conservative for his base to vote for him, and the more “racially aware” in his party may still pass him over just because of his ethnicity. Without a doubt though, this move from Rubio is meant purely as something he can point to in a couple of years and tell Republican primary voters, “See? I’m the regressive candidate you want and need!”
Watch local news coverage of Rubio’s decision to block William Thomas’ nomination here.