By Jonathan Easley - 06/20/12 02:00 PM EDT
Former Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) dropped his bid for Senate on Wednesday and reluctantly endorsed Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.), essentially ending the GOP primary in Florida.
“The establishment has thrown their support behind my competitor, Connie Mack,” LeMieux said in a Web video. “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.”
“Without the resources or the opportunity to debate, our message simply cannot be heard,” LeMieux continued. “As a former party chairman, I know that sometimes for the good of the party, and the good of the nation, a candidate has to bow out gracefully. In order to have the best chance to defeat Bill Nelson and put the Senate in Republican hands, today we will end our campaign.
“To continue would only hurt our chances in the fall, and that is not something that I will risk,” he added. “Connie Mack will be our nominee. He has my support.”
While Mack is up big in the polls, many Florida Republicans were unhappy with what they viewed as a weak field, which also includes Tea Party-backed Mike McCalister and former Rep. Dave Weldon (R-Fla.).
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) used LeMieux's decision to blast Mack.
“It is not just Connie Mack’s well-documented record of drunken brawls, violent road rage episodes and attacks on law enforcement that makes him such a bad candidate. It is his diehard commitment to cutting Medicare benefits and privatizing Social Security for Florida seniors that makes him unacceptable to Florida voters,” said DSCC spokesman Matt Canter. “With a stint as a special events manager at Hooters as his only work experience, Mack cashed in his family name to win a seat in Congress. When he got to Congress, Mack voted to balance the budget on the backs of the middle class by essentially ending Medicare and giving billions in tax breaks to millionaires and Big Oil companies. Floridians want leaders who will fight for them, not self-interested politicians like Connie Mack who put special interests first.”
Florida's Senate primary is set for Aug. 14.
— This story was updated at 10:36 a.m.