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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Todd Wilcox to drop from Senate race

Todd Wilcox, an ex-CIA officer and Orlando defense contractor, is dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate.

DAVID W. DOONAN, Special to the Times

Todd Wilcox, an ex-CIA officer and Orlando defense contractor, is dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate.

24

June

Todd Wilcox, an ex-CIA officer and Orlando defense contractor, is dropping out of the race for U.S. Senate.

He entered the race last year when Marco Rubio planned not to seek re-election, and campaigned against career politicians. He confirmed Friday that he'll step aside and endorse Rubio.

"There is no doubt that Republican control of the Senate is the only way to preserve the Constitutional integrity of our Supreme Court, realign our military’s force structure and ensure the basic freedoms and liberties that make ours the greatest country in the world," Wilcox said in a statement. "Senator Rubio and I don’t agree on everything. We've travelled different paths, but I respect his grasp of the challenges we face and I appreciate the reality that he, as the incumbent, is best positioned to defeat either Patrick Murphyor Alan Grayson in November."

Until this week, there was no clear favorite in the Republican primary, giving first-time candidates like Wilcox a rare opportunity. But Rubio’s decision this week to seek re-election changed the odds for a once-crowded field of Republicans.

U.S. Reps. David Jolly and Ron DeSantis and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera already dropped from the race after Rubio announced he would run.

Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County homebuilder, is the only other major Republican candidate still running.

In a statement Friday, Beruff made it clear that he intends to remain in the race, saying "the choice is clear" and that the incumbent senator is "Washington's candidate, who has consistently failed to do the job."

Wilcox had planned to stay in the race to take on Rubio and Beruff.

"I am tired of going into the voting booth and holding my nose to vote for the least-worst candidate on the ballot," he said Wednesday after Rubio announced his re-election campaign. "None of that has changed based on yet another career politician entering this race."

But polls released by the Republican group Senate Leadership Fund showed Rubio with a dominant lead over Wilcox and Beruff in a primary matchup. There had been concern that they would split anti-Rubio votes in the Aug. 30 primary. But Beruff said Thursday that Wilcox "hasn't even moved the needle."

In the campaign, Wilcox, who grew up in Tampa and joined the Army after graduating from the University of Tampa, made “It’s time to elect a warrior” his rallying cry and criticized career politicians.

Much of his campaign was on the ground at Republican clubs and events with broad bases of voters, like gun shows.

But he never attracted much support from donor groups. He pumped more than $1 million of his own wealth into his run, making him the biggest contributor to his campaign, as of March. He said last month that he was prepared to spend more of his own money to be elected.

[Last modified: Friday, June 24, 2016 11:15am]

    

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