Bense inching closer to U.S. Senate run

Florida state House Speaker Allan Bense is changing his tune on a potential Senate run against Rep. Katherine Harris in the Republican primary.

Bense spokesman Towson Fraser said that a Senate run is “definitely something he is considering” and that it is “at the top of his list” of options when the Florida legislative session ends May 5.

The comment is Bense’s latest move toward running, after denying interest as recently as April 7, when he told the St. Petersburg Times, “I support Katherine.” Bense told the paper, “I’ll do all I can to help her.”

Last Friday, Bense told the Orlando Sentinel, “I’m 50-50, but I’m inclined to head home.” Bense later clarified that, saying he was 50-50 between seeking any other job (he has also been mentioned as a lieutenant governor candidate) or going home.

Bense did not heed calls from Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.), who has since endorsed Harris, and other prominent Republicans to join the race last year, but with recent polls showing Harris vulnerable, Bense is reconsidering.

A new Strategic Vision poll of Florida voters shows that in a head-to-head race, Bense trails Harris by 17 percentage points, with 41 percent undecided. However, some believe that Bense would quickly surpass Harris if he entered the race.

Bense will not announce his decision on whether to pursue the seat now held by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) until May 5. The deadline to file is May 12.