IN SURPRISE, HARIDOPOLOS DROPS OUT OF SENATE RACE
Tallahassee, FL - Senate President Mike Haridopolos stunned much of Florida’s political establishment on Monday, dropping out of the U.S. Senate race, saying he wants to focus on his current office.
Haridopolos had just reported having raised about $900,000 in the race, second in the Republican primary to George LeMieux, but only by a bit. Still, it was a major drop off from the $2.6 million in the first quarter – a stunning amount that had signaled he’d be a strong candidate.
But with another legislative session to go as Senate president before the election, his fundraising was expected to rebound and his chances to make a strong run in the bid to face off against Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson were thought to be good.
Haridopolos also said he wouldn’t seek any other office, squelching any thoughts that he might try to make a bid for a new I-4 corridor U.S. House seat that is expected to emerge in the redistricting that will be complete before next year’s election.
“In the early going, I was encouraged with endorsements from state and national leaders, support from colleagues in the Senate and House, and donations big and small,” Haridopolos said in a video announcing his withdrawal. “Yet it became increasingly clear to me, and those around me, that the responsibilities I was managing on both fronts are in conflict.
“I truly believed I could handle both jobs, but I was wrong,” Haridopolos said. “Now I am determined to make it right.”
Gov. Rick Scott, who is on vacation this week, said the announcement took him by surprise.
"Anytime a statewide race loses a principled conservative like Mike Haridopolos in a race of this importance, it is a sad day for our state," Scott said in a statement.
While Haridopolos was considered at least one of the front runners for the GOP nomination in what has become a crowded field, his campaign had been rocked by personnel changes in the past week – although now it appears the reason may have been that the staffers knew Haridopolos was ending his campaign.
Last week, Haridopolos’ pollster, Pat Bainter, quit to focus on legislative races, and campaign manager Tim Barker also left. Other recent perceived blows: the Brevard County Republican failed to win the Space Coast Tea Party straw poll – in his own home county. And he stumbled in a widely circulated radio interview with talk show host Ray Junior, in which Haridopolos danced around an answer to a question on the federal budget so much that the host finally hung up on him.
Haridopolos’ departure leaves what is still a crowded field that may even get bigger now.
It includes LeMieux, who served in the U.S. Senate from September of 2009 to January of 2011, appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to fill out the rest of Sen. Mel Martinez’ term when Martinez retired early. Also in the race is former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, former Ruth’s Chris steakhouse chain executive Craig Miller, and retired Army Col. Mike McCalister.
“This was a very difficult decision for me, and my family, but this is the right decision,” Haridopolos said. “To those who have supported me in my race for Senate, know that while I may be ending this campaign, I will not give up the fight. To my colleagues in the Florida Senate, please know I will do everything I can to help us renew the promise that is Florida.”
Both LeMieux and Hasner took the opportunity to try to bolster their own campaigns, both asking those who supported Haridopolos to get behind them.
[UPDATE] 7-18 10:55am - TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) --
Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mike Haridopolos is dropping out of next year's race.
Haridopolos said Monday he could not effectively serve as state
Senate president and also devote the time necessary for a
successful bid for the nomination to challenge Democratic incumbent
Haridopolos' campaign was in trouble as his fundraising totals
dropped dramatically in the second quarter of the year and two key
staff members announced over the weekend that they were leaving the
Former state Rep. Adam Hasner, former interim Sen. George
LeMieux, Winter Park businessman Craig Miller and retired Army Col.
Mike McCalister remain in the GOP contest.