Carlos Lopez-Cantera Archives - Page 3 of 30 - Florida Politics

Mitch Perry Report for 6.23.16 — Another story on Patrick Murphy enhancing his resume

Forgive us for not being too coherent, having stayed up until the early morning hours today watching the Hillsborough County MPO’s discussion of the TBX project until 2:20 a.m.this morning. You can read our account here.

Although the huge news in Florida Politics yesterday morning was Marco Rubio‘s re-entry into a Senate race he said he would never get back into; you have to believe Rubio feels like he can handle his competition pretty handily.

The Democratic Party, both statewide and nationally, have gone whole hog with Patrick Murphy as being the man who can take the seat (forget the polls that show Alan Grayson to do virtually as well against every Republican, including Rubio).

What about Murphy today, after CBS Miami aired a very damaging report on Murphy’s claims about his role as a small-business man and as a CPA. Some of this had already been reported by the Tampa Bay Times and the Miami Herald‘s Kristen Clark. But it’s damaging.

Check out Jim DeFede‘s story here.

In other news …

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson — the two top Democratic Senate candidates who would lose to Rubio according to a new poll, predictably blasted the Republican for his flip-flop back into the race. Murphy later said on a conference call that the fact that Rubio won’t preclude staying in the Senate for the full six years to run for president again was “shocking” and “unacceptable.”

It’s hard to read Carlos Lopez-Cantera “thank” Rubio for getting into the race. It just is.

Moments after the news became official, conservative talk-show host Laura Ingraham (a Ron DeSantis supporter), blasted Rubio, saying it’s exactly why people are cynical about politics.

Tampa Bay area Democratic Representative Kathy Castor was part of a group of dozens of Democrats holding a sit-in on the House floor, demanding that House Speaker Paul Ryan give them a vote on two different gun-control measures.

St. Petersburg-based trial attorney Augie Ribeiro will reportedly enter the SD 19 race.

Andrew Warren, running to beat Mark Ober for Hillsborough State Attorney, has unveiled a set of ethics reforms for the office.

Stanley Gray explains why he’s the best choice in the Hillsborough County School Board’s District 7 race.

After Senate flip-flop, Patrick Murphy asks how can Floridians trust Marco Rubio?

Treasure Coast Congressman and U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Patrick Murphy says Floridians should think long and hard about Marco Rubio’s decision to run now for re-election for his U.S. Senate seat, a seat that Rubio insisted he would never run for again over the past year-and-half.

“Who does he think he is that all of a sudden Floridians are going to accept him back after he’s told them how much he doesn’t like the job?,” Murphy asked reporters on a conference call on Wednesday, saying that any employer in the private sector would surely be hesitant at a minimum to rehire an employee who had verbally trashed the place he had worked for over the past year.

PolitiFact listed a series of comments that the Florida GOP Senator has made over the past year on Wednesday, all of them capturing some variation of Rubio saying that he’d either be president next year — or become a private citizen once again — but definitely not a Senator.

In some publications it’s been reported that Rubio won’t commit to serving the completion of another six-year term if elected again this fall, allowing himself the opportunity to take another shot at the presidency if Donald Trump doesn’t take the White House. Congressman Murphy said such an attitude was “unacceptable.”

“Think about this — he won’t even admit that he’ll do a full term,” Murphy said. “The arrogance of that is shocking to me.”

Recent polls show that while Murphy and his main Democratic Senate opponent, Congressman Alan Grayson, had steady leads over every Republican that had been in the race, both fall short of defeating Rubio this fall, which is perhaps why both Murphy and the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee were relentless in their attacks on Rubio on Wednesday.

“Senator Rubio thinks the Senate can’t get things done,” said Murphy. “He said ‘we’re not going to fix America with senators and congressmen. He said, ‘I’m missing votes because I’m leaving the Senate.’ You know Senator, I just gotta tell you, I think Floridians expect better.”

Murphy participated in the conference call after spending time with his Democratic colleagues in a sit-in on the House floor, demanding that Speaker Paul Ryan allow votes on gun-control measures to be voted on by the entire caucus.

While Murphy was busy lambasting Rubio today, there is no guarantee that the two will match up in a one-on-one general election battle for the Senate come November. According to According to a new Targeted Persuasion survey, 30 percent of likely Democratic primary voters said they planned to vote for Alan Grayson in the Aug. 30 primary. Twenty-seven percent of voters polled stated that they supported Murphy; while 5 percent said they planned to vote for Pam Keith.

Murphy said without much enthusiasm at the end of the call that if Grayson were to defeat him in the Aug. 30 primary, he would support him in the general election. But Murphy said that Grayson had “disqualified” himself from the race, referring to Grayson’s once offshore hedge fund.

In April, the Office of Congressional Ethics released a report recommending that a House committee keep investigating Grayson. He’s been accused him of improperly managing a hedge fund, not disclosing all his finances and conducting business deals with the federal government that would be a conflict of interest. Grayson has downplayed the investigation, and has suggested that the entire issue has been resolved.

With today’s announcement, the GOP senate field has been reduced to three people. In addition to Rubio, only Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox remain in the race. Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Congressman Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race, following Congressman David Jolly, who announced he would run for re-election for his current congressional seat last Friday, anticipating Rubio’s announcement

Marco Rubio rallies backers, calls for their continued support in Senate bid

Marco Rubio told supporters he needs their help to make sure his 2016 re-election bid is successful.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he was running for re-election to the U.S. Senate. In a statement announcing his decision, Rubio said the Senate will play an important role in the coming years “as a check and balance on the excesses of a president.”

“Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida. That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat,” he said in the statement. “It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

Rubio reiterated that message on a call with supporters Wednesday afternoon. He said when his presidential bid came to an end, he was committed to the decision not to run again. But when his friend, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, asked him to consider another run, Rubio said he would think about it.

Rubio said he spent the weekend with his family discussing the possibility, and told supporters he has “always been in public service for the desire to make a difference.”

Rubio acknowledged the race will be difficult, and said it will likely be an expensive proposition. Rubio encouraged supporters to donate, telling them he can’t do it without their help.

The late entry into the race means Rubio about two months to build his campaign infrastructure and raise a substantial amount of campaign cash.

The race is expected to be an expensive one. Earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Times reported Carlos Beruff told campaign staff he was prepared to put another $10 million to $15 million into the race. The newspaper reported Beruff has already spent more than $4 million of his own money on the race.

Beruff and Orlando Republican Todd Wilcox both said they plan to continue their Senate bid, despite Rubio’s decision to run again. Three other Republicans — Lopez-Cantera, Rep. David Jolly, and Rep. Ron DeSantis — have dropped their Senate bids.

Rubio told supporters believes if he wins, Republicans will retain their Senate majority. He also said he plans to spend time on the campaign trail rallying support from Floridians.

The Republican primary is Aug. 30.

Reversing course, Marco Rubio announces he will seek re-election

It’s official: Marco Rubio is running for re-election.

The Miami Republican announced Wednesday he planned to run again in 2016. The announcement came after weeks of speculation about whether Rubio would seek another term in the U.S. Senate. The decision reverses a pledge to return to private life when his term was over in January.

“In politics, admitting you’ve changed your mind is not something most people like to do. But here it goes,” said Rubio in a statement. “I have decided to seek re-election to the United States Senate. I understand my opponents will try to use this decision to score political points against me. Have at it. Because I have never claimed to be perfect, or to have all the answers.”

Rubio announced in 2015 he was running for the presidency. While he was considered by many to be a top contender, his presidential campaign failed to gain steam. He suspended his campaign in March, following a poor showing in the Florida primary.

Rubio received 27 percent of the vote, coming in second behind Republican Donald Trump. Trump won nearly 46 percent of the vote, coming out on top in most of the state’s 67 counties.

In his announcement Wednesday, Rubio said: “no matter who is elected president, there is reason for worry.”

“With Hillary Clinton, we would have four more years of the same failed economic policies that have left us with a stagnant economy. We would have four more years of the same failed foreign policy that has allowed radical Islam to spread, and terrorists to be released from Guantánamo,” he said. “And even worse, if Clinton were president and her party took control of Congress, she would govern without Congressional oversight or limit. It would be a repeat of the early years of the current administration, when we got Obamacare, the failed stimulus, and a record debt.”

Rubio said the prospect of a “Trump presidency is also worrisome.”

“It is no secret that I have significant disagreements with Donald Trump. His positions on many key issues are still unknown. And some of his statements, especially about women and minorities, I find not just offensive but unacceptable,” said Rubio. “If he is elected, we will need Senators willing to encourage him in the right direction, and if necessary, stand up to him. I’ve proven a willingness to do both.”

Political observers have long said the state’s Senate race will be one to watch, and Republicans have said it could be key to keeping control of the Senate. A Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday morning found Rubio was the best bet for Republicans in a general election matchup.

The survey found Rubio would defeat Democrat Patrick Murphy 47 percent to 40 percent. In a hypothetical matchup between Rubio and Democrat Alan Grayson, Rubio would receive 48 percent of the vote to Grayson’s 40 percent.

Rubio said Wednesday the Senate is a place “from which you can perform great services for the people you have the honor of representing.” He also called the Senate a place “from which great policy advances can be made.”

“But as we begin the next chapter in the history of our nation, there’s another role for the Senate that could end up being its most important in the years to come: The Constitutional power to act as a check and balance on the excesses of a president,” he said. “Control of the Senate may very well come down to the race in Florida. That means the future of the Supreme Court will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the future of the disastrous Iran nuclear deal will be determined by the Florida Senate seat. It means the direction of our country’s fiscal and economic policies will be determined by this Senate seat. The stakes for our nation could not be higher.”

Rubio’s decision, which comes just two days before the end of the qualifying period, has already had an impact on the Republican field. Five Republicans had initially thrown their hat in the race to replace Rubio, but that number is quickly dwindling.

Rep. David Jolly announced last week that he was dropping his Senate bid, choosing to run for re-election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Rep. Ron DeSantis is also expected to end his Senate bid.

Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, a longtime friend of Rubio’s and a Senate candidate, said he encouraged Rubio to reconsider his decision. Lopez-Cantera said he would not file to run if Rubio decided to get in the race, and on Wednesday made it official.

“As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful yet difficult decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be,” he said in a statement. “Additionally, as I previously stated, I will not file as a candidate in this U.S. Senate race, continuing my service as Florida’s lieutenant governor with Governor Scott focusing on Florida.”

Republicans Todd Wilcox and Carlos Beruff both said they plan to stay in the race, regardless of Rubio’s decision. In a statement Wednesday, Beruff said he is “not going to back down from the Washington establishment.”

“This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them,” said Beruff. “Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Wilcox said he decided to run “because of the complete failure on the part of our elected civilian leadership to solve the problems we face as a nation.”

“I am tired of going into the voting booth and holding my nose to vote for the least-worst candidate on the ballot.  We need to elect serious leaders that understand our enemies and our economy,” said Wilcox. “I have 27 years of real world experience in national security and the economy, experience that is desperately needed in Washington now more than ever. None of that has changed based on yet another career politician entering this race.”

Rubio has already received the support of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The organization swiftly issued a statement saying Rubio will have its full support.

“Marco Rubio is a valued leader for Florida and for our country, and I welcome his decision to ask voters for the opportunity to serve once again,” said Sen. Roger F. Wicker, the chair of the NRSC. “Senator Rubio has made a lasting impact when it comes to standing up against the failed Obama agenda and has articulated a clear vision for making our country safer and more prosperous. His campaign will have the full support of the NRSC.”

The decision to run for re-election means Rubio will have to spend the next few weeks campaigning across the state.

The Republican primary is Aug. 30, but vote-by-mail ballots will be sent to military and overseas voters on July 16. Elections officials will begin sending vote-by-mail ballots to domestic voters beginning July 26.

While Rubio may be the most well-known candidate in the race, he could face some challenges. According to the Quinnipiac University poll released this week, 45 percent of Floridians said they approve of the job he is doing in the U.S. Senate; while 44 percent said they disapproved.

Rubio said he made the decision after discussing it with his wife and their four children while in West Miami for Father’s Day.

“There was one path that was more personally comfortable and probably smarter politically. But after much thought and prayer, together we chose to continue with public service; to continue down the path that provides the opportunity to make a positive difference at this critical and uncertain time for our nation,” he said. “In the end, there was simply too much at stake for any other choice.”

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Reporter Scott Powers contributed to this report.

Why Im Running - Marco Rubio for US Senate EDIT

Carlos Lopez-Cantera officially drops out of Florida’s U.S. Senate race

Shortly after Marco Rubio officially announced he would be running for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat, his good friend Carlos Lopez-Cantera said he would be dropping out of the race.

“I want to thank all of my supporters in this campaign, and I want to congratulate and thank Marco for his decision to pursue re-election to the U.S. Senate,” he said in a statement. “As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful, yet difficult, decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart. Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be. Additionally, as I previously stated, I will not file as a candidate in this U.S. Senate race, continuing my service as Florida’s lieutenant governor with Gov. Scott focusing on Florida.”

When the stories began circulating earlier this month that Rubio was thinking seriously of reversing himself and getting back into the race, one of the most serious barriers to doing so appeared to be his friendship with Lopez-Cantera. Though Rubio had never officially endorsed the lieutenant governor and a man he has known for 20 years, he never shied away from making positive remarks about his candidacy, and in fact hosted a fundraiser for him in Washington.

And Rubio said this about CLC earlier this year in Miami:

“I want to introduce you to a really good friend of mine and someone who could very well be — thanks to [and] with your cooperation — he could be the next Senator from Florida taking the position that I’m going to leave because I’m going to be president. His name is [Lt. Gov.] Carlos Lopez-Cantera,” Rubio said.

But momentum continued to build for Rubio to re-enter the race, with Senate Republicans urging him to do so.

Then came the shooting massacre in Orlando in the early morning hours of Sunday, June 12. While both men visited Orlando later that day, the two had a conversation, according to Politico, that led CLC to tell Rubio that “you should reconsider running for your seat.”

The idea that Rubio was using the Orlando tragedy as a pretext to get back into the race was “despicable,” said South Florida Democrat and Senate candidate Patrick Murphy over the weekend.

That led to the last 10 days of Rubio being asked almost daily if he would get into the race. Rubio said late last week that he would spend time with his family in West Miami over the weekend to make his decision, which came Wednesday morning.

“I spent nearly a year on an incredible journey campaigning for this race, and I know firsthand the investment of time, energy and resources that go into this, but this race is bigger than any one person,” Lopez-Cantera said in his statement. “It is critical for Florida, and for the future of our country, that a Republican with the ability to make a difference on the critical issues facing our state and nation wins this seat, and Marco has demonstrated that ability time and time again. With that in mind, I encourage Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox to do what is right and unite behind Marco’s re-election so we can ensure that we have the best candidate with the best ability to represent all of our families in the U.S. Senate.”

For now, Lopez-Cantera will go back full time to his day job, serving as Florida’s lieutenant governor. Rumors have been percolating that he may consider a statewide position, like chief financial officer in 2018, but that is pure speculation at this point.

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson blast Marco Rubio’s decision to run for re-election to his Senate seat

Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are reacting to the news that Marco Rubio intends to run for re-election to his U.S. Senate seat.

“Marco Rubio abandoned his constituents, and now he’s treating them like a consolation prize. Unlike Marco Rubio, I love working hard every single day for the people of Florida,” Murphy said early Wednesday. “From missing the most votes of any Florida Senator in nearly 50 years, to seeking to ban abortion even in cases of rape or incest, to repeatedly voting against closing the terrorist gun loophole, Rubio is proving he is only out for himself.”

David Damron, a spokesman for Grayson’s Senate campaign, said, “While Rep. Grayson is busy passing good, progressive legislation, he welcomes the chance to beat basically two Do Nothing Republicans in Patrick Murphy and No Show Marco this fall. But it’s shameful that Marco is trying to use the Orlando tragedy to further his 2020 presidential ambitions from a Senate seat that he’s barely sat in. Floridians will see through it. The Trump-Rubio ticket will fail.”

The Washington Post reported early Wednesday Rubio would announce his decision sometime Wednesday, anonymously quoting three people familiar with Rubio’s thinking.

The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, which has already endorsed Murphy in the race, blasted Rubio’s decision.

DSCC Communications Director Sadie Weiner said in a statement:

“Sen. Rubio simply couldn’t be bothered to show up for work, and when he asked Florida voters for a promotion in the presidential primary, they swiftly shut him down and handed him a nearly 20-point loss to Donald Trump. That’s the same Donald Trump who Rubio called a “con artist” who couldn’t be trusted with the nuclear codes who he has now heartily endorsed and will be forced to run alongside. Unfortunately for Florida voters, when Marco Rubio did decide to show up for work, he voted to turn Medicare into a voucher program, defund critical women’s health services, and keep open a loophole that allows terrorists to purchase guns. Now, he is cravenly using the deadliest mass shooting in American history as the springboard to go back on his word and further his political career. They said it couldn’t be done, but Marco Rubio’s actions, words and votes reveal one of the more self-serving Washington politicians who has always put his political career above the people he represents.”

The Democratic Party opposition group American Bridge immediately linked Rubio to Donald Trump, saying, “With reports confirming that Marco Rubio will run to retain his Florida Senate seat, Donald Trump must be ecstatic. Rubio quickly supported Trump despite their personal and petty sniping in the GOP primary, so the two will make a fine pair on the Florida ticket — if Rubio can even get through the messy Republican primary.” They then linked to a Trump tweet calling on Rubio to run late last month.

A poll released by Quinnipiac University Wednesday shows Rubio would immediately become the front-runner in the race this fall against either Murphy or Congressman Alan Grayson, the other major Democrat in the race. The poll showed that Rubio leads Murphy, 47 percent to 40 percent, and leads Grayson, 48 percent to 40 percent.

That same poll also shows Murphy and/or Grayson defeating every other Republican in the race, which right now includes Congressman Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff, and Orlando businessman and former combat veteran Todd Wilcox. 

Beruff responded: “This isn’t Marco Rubio’s seat; this is Florida’s seat. The power brokers in Washington think they can control this race.  They think they can tell the voters of Florida who their candidates are. But the voters of Florida will not obey them. Like Marco Rubio in 2010, I’m not going to back down from the Washington establishment. They are the problem, not the solution.”

Lopez-Cantera has indicated he would drop out of the race if Rubio were to re-enter the contest, something Pinellas County Congressman David Jolly did last week.

 

Carlos Lopez-Cantera commends David Jolly for decision to run for re-election

Carlos Lopez-Cantera is applauding his one-time opponent’s decision to run for re-election in the U.S. House.

Lopez-Cantera, the state’s lieutenant governor and one of several Republicans running for the U.S. Senate, commended Rep. David Jolly for “doing the right thing and taking on Charlie Crist.”

Jolly, an Indian Shores Republican, announced Friday afternoon he was dropping his U.S. Senate bid and running for re-election in Florida’s 13th Congressional District instead. Crist, a Democrat, is also running in CD 13.

“Charlie has proven over and over again that he only cares about himself as the ultimate narcissist. He will say anything and try to be everything to everyone,” said Lopez-Cantera in a statement. “I look forward to helping beat Charlie again and hopefully we will be done with talking about Charlie once and for all after this election cycle.”

Jolly could be the first of several Republicans to bow out of the U.S. Senate race in the coming days. Sen. Marco Rubio, who had long said he wouldn’t run for re-election, is reconsidering that decision, saying he plans to take the weekend to consider his options.

“Obviously, I take very seriously everything that’s going on, not just in Orlando but in our country,” he said in a press briefing in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday. “I’ve enjoyed my service here a lot, so I’ll go home later this week, and I’ll have some time with my family, and then if there’s been a change in our status, I’ll be sure to let everyone know.”

Those remarks came shortly after Marc Caputo with POLITICO reported that Lopez-Cantera encouraged Rubio, his longtime friend, to reconsider his seat. In an email to supporters Wednesday, the lieutenant governor again said he asked Rubio to “reconsider his decision and enter the Senate race.”

Lopez-Cantera has kept a low profile for much of the week, leading some to wonder if he was preparing to get out of the race. But a spokeswoman for his campaign said Friday, that until Rubio reaches his decision Lopez-Cantera remains a candidate for the U.S. Senate.

“Carlos has been focused on performing his duties as lieutenant governor,” said Courtney Alexander, a spokeswoman for Lopez-Cantera’s campaign. “The POLITICO story stands as the correct story. Until Sen. Rubio reaches his decision, Carlos is a candidate for the United States Senate.”

Rubio doesn’t have much time left to make a decision. The qualifying period officially opens at noon on Monday, and runs for a week. If he gets in, Lopez-Cantera has already said he won’t run.

His decision could also have an impact on Rep. Ron DeSantis’ future. DeSantis, a Ponte Verde Beach Republican, said Rubio’s indecision has made it difficult for candidates. DeSantis told radio host Hugh Hewitt this week that he hopes Rubio makes his decision quickly so others can respond.

Two candidates who likely won’t be leaving the race — Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox. Both have said they will continue to run regardless of Rubio’s decision.

The deadline to qualify for the U.S. Senate seat is noon on June 24.

David Jolly drops Senate bid, will seek re-election to CD 13; Charlie Crist, Dems respond

 U.S. Rep. David Jolly has unfinished business.

After weeks of pressure from local officials, bolstered by rumors of Marco Rubio seeking re-election, Jolly is dropping his bid for the U.S. Senate, opting instead for a re-election bid in Florida’s 13th Congressional District.

“David Jolly’s passion is to serve the people of Pinellas,” former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker confirmed in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times. “He learned at the side of Congressman Bill Young, and he has effectively served all parts of our county.

“I strongly endorse his candidacy and his re-election.”

With the possibility of Rubio entering the race, the prospects for Jolly — a Harbor Bluffs Republican — in the crowded Senate GOP primary had worsened somewhat. The decision to run for re-election indicates his feeling that there is a better chance against former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as a Democrat for the Pinellas County-based seat.

“Unlike what my new opponent did when I announced,” Crist said in a statement.  “I’m not going to start name calling like [Republican presidential front-runner] Donald Trump – everyone should do what’s in their heart. Pinellas needs less Donald Trump and more civility to tackle issues like the rising cost of health care, gun violence, failing schools, and protecting our environment –  that’s why I’m running, for the people.”

As for Jolly’s Senate aspirations, the challenge for him and the other GOP Senate candidates in Florida was Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority leader who has openly backed Rubio entering the race.

McConnell, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other leaders, lobbied for Rubio to run for re-election.

According to Marc Caputo of POLITICO Florida, McConnell’s move chilled many donors by casting doubts on the viability of the five Republicans already in the Senate race. June was expected to be a strong fundraising month for all the candidates.

Jolly entered the Senate race last year after Rubio, the incumbent, launched his bid for president. However, after exiting the race earlier this year, Rubio told reporters last week he would consider a return to the Senate in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando, which gave him the inspiration on how he could best serve the nation.

If Rubio decides to run, he must do it by June 24, the filing deadline to qualify for the ballot.

As for the remaining Republican field, both Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis also stated they would not run against Rubio if he seeks re-election.

Manatee County homebuilder Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox — two outsider candidates who have officially filed to run — have maintained that they will continue their campaigns, despite Rubio.

Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s Sadie Weiner blasted Jolly’s decision to run for his old House seat as the result of “lackluster support” for his “ill-prepared” Senate campaign.

“David Jolly wanted any excuse to end his Senate campaign that was defined by lackluster support and pathetic attempts to scrub his lobbying career from his public biography,” Weiner said in a statement. “He was ill-prepared to run a statewide race, let alone represent Florida in the U.S. Senate.  We wish the NRCC the best of luck with their former lobbyist candidate who they accused of lying after he brought a secret camera crew into their office.”

Florida Democratic Party Chair Allison Tant argued that Jolly “abandoned” Pinellas County voters when he decided to run for the Senate, and only returned to the CD 13 race when he saw that no Republican could win statewide.

“One year after abandoning the job the people of Pinellas County elected him to do, David Jolly has changed his mind and is returning to run in the district he argued ‘no Republican can win,’” Tant said in a statement Friday. “Jolly’s lack of commitment and principle are exactly what Pinellas County residents would expect from a Washington lobbyist who is only interested in furthering his political career. Florida Democrats look forward to sending David Jolly back to K Street in November.”

In new ad, Carlos Beruff says ‘we are all simply Americans’

Carlos Beruff is out with a new campaign advertisement, calling on Floridians to reject what he calls a hyphenated county.

The release of the 30-second spot, called “Simply American,” comes as Marco Rubio prepares to announce whether he will run for re-election.

In his new ad, an announcer is heard saying: “Ever get tired of all these hyphens? Separating American with all these divisions. America is strongest when we are united.”

“We all owe America; it’s not the other way around. Some call me a Cuban-hyphen-American. I reject that. I don’t believe in hyphenated Americans,” Beruff is then heard saying. “We are all simply Americans. Let’s put America first. I’m Carlos Beruff. I approve this message, with no hyphen.”

Beruff is one of five Republicans currently running for the U.S. Senate. But political insiders widely expect to see a shift in the race in the coming days, as Rubio decides whether to run again.

Rep. David Jolly is set to hold a news conference this afternoon to announce his plans. Many expect him to drop out of the U.S. Senate race and run for re-election against Democrat Charlie Crist.

Rubio’s longtime friend Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera has already said he would bow out if Rubio gets in. He even told supporters this week he encouraged Rubio to reconsider. Rep. Ron DeSantis may also be forced to consider his options if Rubio enters.

Rubio is expected to talk with his family over the weekend about whether he should run for re-election.

Beruff has said he would stay in the race even if Rubio gets in. So has Republican Todd Wilcox.

The qualifying deadline is noon on June 24.

Todd Wilcox talks Senate race, Pulse tragedy

FloridaPolitics.com caught up with Republican Senate candidate Todd Wilcox in Jacksonville Thursday, where he gave his thoughts on the possible re-entry of Marco Rubio into the race, and the mass shooting in Orlando Sunday.

The big narrative of the week in the Florida Senate race involves Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Marco Rubio having a conversation in the wake of the Pulse incident, with CLC being willing to step aside if Rubio wanted in.

Wilcox’s take?

“It smacks of … calculation,” he told FloridaPolitics.com.

Regarding Lopez-Cantera and David Jolly being willing to step aside for Rubio, Wilcox described it as “wishy-washy.”

And Wilcox, as he’s had to say repeatedly this month, is “in the race no matter what.”

His experience in the Global War on Terror is his calling card, he believes, in “an election defined by national security” in the wake of Pulse.

Wilcox’s experience is unique: he’s the only person in the Senate race who speaks Arabic, with combat experience in the theaters of warfare against the jihadis.

This experience, Wilcox contends, is more substantial than that gleaned by a politician receiving “classified briefings.”

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Of course, as Sunday taught us, the War on Terror is now on the homefront.

“Orlando and America are forever changed,” Wilcox said, with the “fight at our doorstep.”

“We are at war,” Wilcox added. “This is a wake-up call to voters [who need to] start electing people who understand” the conflict as it is.

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Wilcox also addressed Veterans’ Court, an initiative of the 4th Judicial Circuit.

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