Former Sen. George LeMieux announced Wednesday that he is dropping out of the Florida GOP Senate race, citing a lack of funding and advantages of his challenger, Rep. Connie Mack.
"The establishment has thrown their support behind my competitor, Connie Mack," he said in a YouTube video released Wednesday. "Ahead of us in the polls, the Mack name enjoys widespread recognition that can only be matched with substantial advertising or the opportunity to debate on statewide television."
"Advertising, which our finances cannot support, and debates, which my competitor won’t agree to," LeMieux said.
He went on, "It is not my nature to step aside, but there is a reality to running a statewide race in Florida. Without the resources or the opportunity to debate, our message simply cannot be heard."
Former Gov. Charlie Crist (R) appointed LeMieux, his former chief of staff and longtime ally, to the U.S. Senate in 2009 after Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) quit his seat. LeMieux served in the Senate until 2011. Crist ran as an independent for Senate in 2010, but was trounced by Marco Rubio. Once considered a rising star in the Republican Party for his moderate positions, Crist now works for a law firm.
The conservative nonprofit FreedomWorks recently endorsed Mack, and GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson reportedly gave $1 million to a super PAC supporting him.
The GOP nominee will face Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the fall. Nelson is considered a slight favorite in the race.
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