Democrat Bill Phillips of Orlando has dropped out of the Orlando-based Congressional District 7 race.
His departure from the race means there now are no Democrats running to take on Republican U.S. Rep. John Mica of Winter Park.
Phillips suspended his campaign in February, calling for someone else to take his place. No one has, and now he has quietly withdrawn, according to the Democrats.
He did not announce his withdrawal, and he was not available Thursday to talk about it.
It’s a district, which includes part of central Orlando, Winter Park, Maitland and all of Seminole County, that Mica has held onto for 12 terms with relative ease, trouncing the last several Democrats in landslides.
However, the Democrats had targeted the district this year because last falls statewide Congressional redistricting had reduced the Republican voter registration advantage to just one or two points.
Phillips, a banker and former staff member at the Florida Education Association, was seen early only Democrats as a potential contender, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has backed him with staff help from Washington. But his fundraising since his October entry into the race was lackluster and his campaign never took off.
Since then Democrats in Orange and Osceola counties and in Washington have been urging other area Democrats already running in crowded Democratic fields, ranging from former state Rep. Mike Clelland to Susannah Randolph to former Florida Democratic Party Chair Bob Poe, to consider switching to CD 7 to take on Mica.
None have agreed to, so far.
However, Democrats insist they will yet find a viable challenger yet.
Mica had more than $639,000 in his campaign war chest at the end of the first quarter of 2016, while Phillips had raised just over $36,000, but had less than $1,000 left.
Phillips is not the first candidate to withdraw from taking on Mica. Earlier, Republican challenger John Morning withdrew.
And in 2014, the last time Mica ran, Democratic nominee Wes Newman quit the race in August, less than two months before the election.
Mica still faces Republican challenger Mark Busch of Casselberry and independent Patrick Weingart of Altamonte Springs. Neither has raised any money yet.
“Across the entire community, Republican, Democrat and Independents are providing the support shown and recognition of what we are accomplishing for Central Florida,” Mica stated in a news release Thursday. “Even as vicious attacks from Washington politicos have been lobbed since October towards my record, the people in Central Florida continue to show their support. Washington Democrats have no understanding of Central Florida.”