Updated 5:04 p.m.| F ormer Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum denied he would announce his plans to run for Florida's open Senate seat next week, conflicting with buzz that's been circulating around the Sunshine State.
"I am not planning an announcement of any sort next week, and I have not come to a conclusion about a U.S. Senate race in Florida" McCollum told CQ Roll Call Friday afternoon.
McCollum has been mulling a bid for a few months, and multiple GOP operatives told CQ Roll Call that a McCollum confidant was calling around to donors to say a big announcement would take place on Oct. 7.
If he runs, McCollum would join Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly in the race — a must-win for Republicans as they seek to hold their five-seat Senate majority in 2016.
McCollum is a well-known entity in Florida politics. He spent 20 years in Congress, from 1981 until 2001.
He's run four statewide campaigns, including failed Senate bids in 2000 and 2004, a successful attorney general race in 2007 and an unsuccessful run for governor in 2010.
A PPP poll in September found the GOP primary to be wide open, with 52 percent of voters undecided. The poll did not test McCollum's support, but the large number of undecided voters could help push him to run.
Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater is also contemplating a run again , after passing on the race in April. Atwater was a top Republican pick to run for the seat, but after he said no earlier this year, many of his top campaign aides are now working for Lopez-Cantera — a fact that could ultimately keep Atwater from deciding on a bid.
Third-quarter fundraising reports, due out Oct. 15, will paint a better picture of where the GOP primary field stands. Only DeSantis has been in the race long enough to have reported fundraising figures so far.
On the Democratic side, an ugly primary is brewing between fellow Democratic Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson. National Democrats back Murphy, whom they say is the more electable candidate.
Grayson has already began lobbing attacks Murphy's way in the press. But third-quarter fundraising reports will also shed light on how much money Grayson will have to wage those attacks on a broader scale.
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