GOP candidates drop out, clear path for Rubio

GOP candidates drop out, clear path for Rubio
© Getty Images/The Hill

Two Florida Republicans are dropping out of the race to replace Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioPompeo: Countries must 'step up,' provide 'transparent' coronavirus information to save lives China did not count coronavirus positives if patient had no symptoms: report Trump seeks to sell public on his coronavirus response MORE following his Wednesday announcement he will run for reelection.

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Rep. Ron DeSantis is telling Republicans he’ll drop out of the Senate race and run for reelection to his House seat instead, according to The Washington Post.

A DeSantis spokesman told the Post that the Florida congressman will announce his plans later Wednesday.

Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera said Wednesday he will also end his Senate campaign and continue to serve as lieutenant governor. 

He encouraged the remaining GOP Senate candidates to end their campaigns and rally behind Rubio in his statement.

Lopez-Cantera, a close friend of Rubio’s, had urged him to run for reelection following the June 12 mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub and had previously said he would step aside if the Florida senator wanted to jump back in the race.

"As his friend, I know this was a thoughtful yet difficult decision that was made with our country’s best interest at heart," Lopez-Cantera said in the statement. "Florida needs a principled conservative leader now more than ever, and that is what Marco has been and will continue to be."

Rubio had insisted since he began his presidential run last year that he would retire from the Senate after one term.

But he had been rumored in recent weeks to be reconsidering and had been urged by top Senate Republicans, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Health Care: White House projects grim death toll from coronavirus | Trump warns of 'painful' weeks ahead | US surpasses China in official virus deaths | CDC says 25 percent of cases never show symptoms 14 things to know for today about coronavirus Trump says he wouldn't have acted differently on coronavirus without impeachment MORE (R-Ky.), to try to hang on to a seat that could be pivotal to determining the majority in the Senate.

After weeks of speculation, Rubio decided to reverse his pledge not to seek reelection, saying his decision was based on the Senate’s important role in reining in executive power.

Last week, Rep. David Jolly (R-Fla.) ended his Senate campaign and decided to run for his redistricted House seat. He had repeatedly said he’d leave the race if Rubio wanted to run again.

The remaining GOP field includes businessmen Carlos Beruff and Todd Wilcox. Earlier this week, aides to both candidates said they’d continue their Senate campaigns even if Rubio jumps back in, according to Post.