Republican George LeMieux exits Florida Senate race

Rachel Rose Hartman
The Ticket

Former Sen. George LeMieux on Wednesday dropped his bid for Florida Senate, citing Rep. Connie Mack's domination of the Republican competition. LeMieux's decision leaves Mack poised to take on Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in the general election.

"The establishment has thrown their support behind my competitor, Connie Mack," LeMieux said in a video message to supporters. "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. ... Without the resources or the opportunity to debate, our message simply cannot be heard."

LeMieux's decision paves the way for Mack to win the Aug. 14 Republican primary, and LeMieux said as much in his video Wednesday.

"To continue would only hurt our chances in the fall, and that is not something that I will risk," he said. "Connie Mack will be our nominee. He has my support."

Mack, the namesake son of former Sen. Connie Mack III, earned an endorsement last month from Mitt Romney and also boasts support from Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sen. Rand Paul, the American Conservative Union and other center-right groups such as FreedomWorks, which endorsed Mack's campaign on Tuesday. During his campaign, Mack had argued that LeMieux, who was briefly appointed to replace Sen. Mel Martinez, was a "Republican in name only."

Mack still faces GOP competition from former Rep. Dave Weldon and Army veteran Mike McCalister but is regarded as the clear front-runner in the race.

A Public Policy Polling survey released June 7 showed Mack besting his competitors with 34 percent, compared to 13 percent for LeMieux, 10 percent for McCalister and 6 percent for Weldon, a new entrant to the race.

That same poll, however, showed Nelson holding a wide lead over every potential Republican nominee, including Mack, who trailed the senator by 13 percentage points.