Matt Becker is dropping out of the race for Florida’s 13th Congressional District, he announced in an email to supporters Monday.
Becker’s departure is related to business challenges he is facing amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Becker was running in a crowded seven-way primary for the Republican nomination to take on incumbent Democrat Charlie Crist.
“While this is not the decision I wanted to make, COVID-19 changed everything for me,” Becker wrote.
Becker owns a staffing firm in Clearwater that helps businesses in Pinellas County find employees. But the slowdown in local, state and national economies have strained the business.
“With the sudden and dramatic job losses we have been seeing, I have not been able to focus my attention on this campaign,” he wrote. “Between February and March, the state of Florida lost almost 37,000 jobs and our unemployment rate spiked from 2.8% to 4.3%. With our nation shut down until April 30th, and potentially beyond, those numbers will get worse before they improve.”
Becker assured his business is doing well, but needs his attention to stay that way.
“We are stable and remain open. However, as the only candidate in this race who understands what the responsibility feels like to meet payroll, I must repay the loyalty my team has shown me over these last 10 months. This business isn’t their responsibility, it is mine,” Becker wrote.
“If we can keep businesses open locally, it will mean a faster economic recovery for us when this pandemic is past. To do this, it is imperative there are jobs for people to come back to. Over the last few weeks, I have been very active in trying to help our local community understand the many resources they have available to them and I will continue to do so. I want to see the businesses, employees, and families devastated by this disaster return to normal as quickly as possible.”
Becker has never held political office, but he has political experience. He served as Chief Operating Officer for the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. He also held leadership positions with the U.S. Small Business Administration and the U.S. Department of Education’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics.
Becker’s departure leaves six candidates in the Republican primary including Amanda Makki, Anna Paulina Luna, George Buck, Sheila Griffin, Sharon Barry Newby and Nicolas Sacramento.