Politics

GOP Frontrunner Drops Out of Senate Race as Marco Rubio Anticipation Grows

Rep. David Jolly, who had a nominal lead among announced candidates in polls for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination, has dropped his bid for the higher house. Instead, he'll try to keep his seat in the House of Representatives. The move comes as anticipation grows that Marco Rubio will announce his own bid reelection. 

"I have unfinished business," Jolly said in a Facebook post today. "We have unfinished business together. Today I'm asking you for the opportunity to keep doing my job. I ask for your support in seeking re-election to the House of Representatives."

Jolly, a GOP moderate (by the current standards anyway) who has strongly denounced Donald Trump on the House floor, had widely been seen as the Republican with the best chance to replace Marco Rubio. He led most polls in the GOP primary (though the vast majority of voters remained undecided) and polled better against both Democratic candidates in general election surveys than the other Republicans. 

He had decided to run for Senate after his St. Petersburg-area congressional district was redrawn during the recent redistricting. The new district now leans Democratic. 

In fact, Jolly's most likely Democratic opponent in the race is former governor Charlie Crist. 

Jolly didn't mention Rubio in his announcement, but it seems increasingly likely that Rubio will go back on his word and run for Senate reelection. Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt reported earlier this week that Rubio told him off the air that the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando made him rethink his decision. 

Rubio, however, hasn't officially announced a decision. He'll have until June 24 to do so. A new poll shows he would easily win a GOP primary. In addition to Jolly's exit, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera announced he too would exit the race if Rubio, his friend, decided to get back in. 
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Kyle Munzenrieder