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Republican Carlos Beruff in Tampa says he won't run again if he loses U.S. Senate bid

Republican Senate candidate Carlos Beruff holds a Town Hall on Friday at the Tahitian Inn in Tampa.

Steve Contorno, Times

Republican Senate candidate Carlos Beruff holds a Town Hall on Friday at the Tahitian Inn in Tampa.



TAMPA — Republican Carlos Beruff said Friday he has no interest in running for U.S. Senate again if his longshot bid this year is unsuccessful.

Speaking in Tampa, Beruff said he got into the race because he wanted to make a difference but would go back to working in the private sector as a developer if he lost.

“I live a good life. I will go back to my good life,” Beruff said. “I will try as hard as I can to be a Senator but I have no interest in being a politician for the rest of my life.”

Beruff is trailing in his primary against incumbent Sen Marco Rubio, who ultimately decided to run for re-election after dropping out of the Republican presidential primary. In his race against Rubio, Beruff has spent millions of his own fortune running ads criticizing the incumbent as out of touch with Florida voters and positioning himself as a strong supporter of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The remark about Beruff’s political future came during a question and answer session with about 25 people in small room inside the Tahitian Inn of South Tampa. After he briefly discussed life after a campaign, he was asked point blank, “Do you plan on pursuing (the Senate) in four more years if you’re unsuccessful?”

Beruff said plainly: “No.”

(Actually, U.S. Senate terms are six years, so Beruff wouldn’t be able to challenge for this seat again until 2022, or, if he wanted to take on Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, Beruff could do so in two years.)

One of the greatest impediments to winning a statewide race like U.S. Senate is name recognition, so hypothetically Beruff could have less of an uphill climb in a future election.

But if that’s something Beruff has considered, it hasn't swayed him.

“I’ve enjoyed it because at least at the end of the day I can say if I failed, I’m ok with failing, I’m not okay with not trying,” Beruff said. “Because then I can look in the mirror and say I spent a whole ton of my money and I tried and I worked hard at it. And I’m ok with that.”

After a 30-minute introduction into his background in real estate and serving in various state appointments, Beruff fielded questions from the audience for about an hour.

Here’s a smattering of his responses:

On Common Core: Against it.

On Libertarian Party presidential nominee Gary Johnson: “Anyone who takes one vote away from Donald Trump bothers me."

The three issues he wouldn’t negotiate on as a Senator: Second amendment, pro-life and gay marriage.

On gay marriage: “I don’t mind if you’re married and gay, I don’t care. But that’s a civil union. It shouldn’t be forced down a baptist minister’s throat.”

On religious exemptions for private companies (like bakers who don’t want to make a cake for a gay wedding):  “When you start talking about that stuff it gets a little dicey because if you start using religion as a basis to discriminate that’s where you get down a slippery slope. But obviously a priest is a priest and a baptist minister is a baptist minister. ... You don’t want somebody who is a racist who all the sudden says, ‘Because I’m religious, I’m not going to serve that person.’ ”

On Affirmative Action: "Affirmative action was a good idea a long time ago, like the Department of Education was a good idea a long time ago. We don’t need those anymore. … All of the things people used to be able to get away with with discrimination, they’re gone. Someone is either going to take a picture of it or a video. We have this huge police force called “us.” So some of the departments and things that were instituted with the best of intentions no longer apply today.”

On gun control: “I deal with numbers and statistics, the fact of the matter is since the assault weapons ban expired, the crime rate with those types of weapons has gone down. … The day they control our guns, we are done.”

On banning people on no fly list from owning guns: “Whoever is in control of that White House can put anybody on the list and how the hell do you get off it? I’m sorry, the government makes mistakes all the time and they put people on the list that don’t belong on it.”

On not joining the establishment when in office: “You have got to send people to Washington who know the most powerful word in the English language is ‘no’ and not worry if you’re going to be chairman of a committee. … You’re not there to get on committees, you’re there to represent the people. And if you’re one of hundred, that vote counts and they’re going to come to you no matter what and you keep saying no until you understand you mean business. I don’t need them.

[Last modified: Friday, August 12, 2016 2:44pm]


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