The question of who will take over the vacated Senate seat when Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, makes his expected bid for the presidency in 2016 has intensified as one expected contender, Jeff Atwater, backs out of race.
Despite the fact that Atwater had the potential to become a front-runner for the race for the Senate, the 57 year-old Florida CFO announced on Saturday that he will not be running.
“Over the past weeks I have received a tremendous amount of encouragement to consider a run for the United States Senate in 2016,” Atwater said in a written statement. “While I have certainly taken these words of support under consideration, I will not be a candidate in 2016. I remain committed to only one endeavor and that is to be the best CFO I can be for the people of Florida.”
Close friends and supporters heard the news first from Atwater, who explained to them that his family did not want him traveling so much between their home in Florida and his job in Washington, DC.
With Atwater out of the picture some other Republicans will most likely be stepping up to the plate. The three most likely runners are Lt. Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and two congressmen from Florida; Ron DeSantis and Tom Rooney. Several others are considering entering the race, but no one will officially announce until Rubio makes his announcement that he is after the president’s seat. Such an announcement by Rubio is expected this Monday.
As recently as last Thursday supporters of Atwater formed a super PAC to raise funds for his likely campaign. Imagine their surprise, then, when Atwater announced his no-go decision.
“This was a total surprise,” said an Atwater supporter. “All the stars were aligned. But family comes first.”