There might be a dose of Teddy Roosevelt Republicanism coupled with Hollywood glamour coming to the Florida Senate race soon.
Businessman Nick Loeb — the boyfriend of “Modern Family” Emmy-nominated actress Sofia Vergara — told Roll Call on Friday he was “even more seriously” considering entering the crowded GOP field after Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos abruptly dropped out of the race to take on Sen. Bill Nelson (D).
Loeb, who abandoned a 2009 bid for Florida state Senate to deal with a divorce, said he would make a decision about a Senate run by the end of September.
In an interview, the south Florida businessman, the wealthy son of former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark John Loeb, described himself as “moderate on some issues and very conservative on others.”
Loeb owns an environmental consulting firm and said being pro-environment was not at odds with his conservatism or Republicanism. “I believe in conservation, which is, at its root from being a conservative, as a Teddy Roosevelt Republican. I believe it’s a national security issue, having fresh air and clean water.”
Asked if he would be willing to put some of his own money in the race if he decided to get in, he said, “of course, you’re going to have to.”
Despite Loeb's potential to be a self-funder, Republicans aren't likely to take his candidacy very seriously.
“He’s kind of a glorified playboy who’s got a famous girlfriend and is getting more attention for that than anything else,” said Florida-based Republican consultant Chris Ingram.
Loeb slapped down that accusation, saying he was a “serial monogamist” who had been married for five years and, since his divorce, had been with one woman, Vegara.
“How serious am I? Listen, I’m a serious businessman,” he said. “I was very serious when I ran before for the state Senate. I raised almost $300,000 in the first quarter and that’s with a $500 [contribution] limit.”
Loeb said if he chose to run, he would be following a decades-long family tradition.
“My family has a long history in American politics and community service, all the way back to my great-great-uncle, who served as governor of New York and as a U.S. Senator, Herbert Lehman, down to my father, who served as a U.S. ambassador under Ronald Reagan,” he said. “I’ve always been brought up ... to give back to a country that’s given so much to me and my family.”
Another potential GOP contender eyeing the race after Haridopolos' exit is former Florida state Speaker Allan Bense, though he told the St. Petersburg Times he’s leaning against a run.
The current GOP candidates looking to unseat Nelson are former Sen. George LeMieux, former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, former Ruth’s Chris Steak House CEO Craig Miller and retired Army Col. Mike McCalister.