Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis announced Wednesday he is running for Florida's open Senate seat, becoming the first well-known Republican to enter what's expected to be among the most competitive races of the cycle.
The second-term member is a favorite of tea party-aligned conservative groups, a number of which encouraged DeSantis to run after GOP Sen. Marco Rubio said he would vacate the seat to run for president .
"America needs a new generation of leaders to address the big issues facing the country: alleviating the middle class squeeze and promoting economic opportunity, confronting the significant national security challenges threatening the safety of our people, and reforming the culture of Washington, DC," DeSantis said in a statement.
"As a candidate for Senate, I look forward to offering reforms based on limited government principles that will make our country stronger and more prosperous," he continued. "I see a bright future for Florida and for America and my campaign will be about the ideas and principles that will help us achieve a more perfect union."
DeSantis is unlikely to have the GOP primary field to himself . A number of others are weighing bids, including fellow Reps. Jeff Miller and David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez Cantera, and Bill McCollum, the former congressman and state attorney general, who lost a Senate bid in 2000 and lost in the gubernatorial primary in 2010.
The winner will likely face Rep. Patrick Murphy, who is backed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee , but outspoken Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson is also mulling a bid.
President Barack Obama carried the state twice, but both times by narrow margins. The race is rated a Tossup by the Rothenberg & Gonzales Political Report/Roll Call.
DeSantis' candidacy opens up his 6th District. The Daytona Beach-based seat is heavily Republican territory.
GOP operatives mentioned a handful of possible contenders for his seat. They include:
- State Sen. Fred Costello, finished second in the primary against DeSantis in 2012, when the decennial redistricting process created this new seat.
- State Sen. Dorothy Hukill, who served in the state House before her election to the state Senate in 2012.
- State Sen. Travis Hutson, who just last month won a special election for his legislative seat.
- State Rep. Doc Renuart, who lost to Hutson in the special election GOP primary.
- Former Rep. Sandy Adams, who served one term in Congress in 2010. Redistricting forced Adams from her seat one cycle later, leading her to run in a member-vs.-member contest against fellow GOP Rep. John Mica. Mica trounced Adams in a primary by 20 points.
Whoever emerges from the Republican primary will be favored to hold the seat in 2016. Mitt Romney won it by 16 points in 2012.
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