Florida lawmaker drops Senate bid to make way for Rubio
June 17 (Reuters) - U.S. Representative David Jolly ended his bid for a U.S. Senate seat from Florida on Friday, opening the way for Marco Rubio to seek re-election in an effort to help Republicans maintain control of the chamber.
"Marco is saying he's getting in," Jolly, a fellow Republican who has been running to fill the seat for the past 10 months, said on CNN. Rubio dropped out of the race for the Republican presidential nomination.
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Later Friday, Jolly, who represents the area around St. Petersburg and Clearwater, said he will run for re-election to his congressional seat.
"Today I am asking my friends and neighbors to let me continue doing my job as a member of Congress," Jolly said in a news conference in Clearwater.
He will likely face former Governor Charlie Crist, a Democrat, in the Nov. 8 election.
Rubio, who ended his presidential bid in March, said this week he was reconsidering running and may decide as early as this weekend.
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Representatives for Rubio declined to answer questions about his future plans.
At the news conference, Jolly said he fully expects Rubio to run for re-election to the Senate. His spokesman Preston Rudie told Reuters the congressman "had no actual knowledge of a Rubio decision."
Rubio's entry into the senate race would complicate Democrats' efforts to win back a majority in the Senate in the November election.
Republicans won control of the Senate in the 2014 mid-term election and now hold 54 seats in the 100-seat chamber. Democrats have 44 seats and two independents are aligned with them.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other Republicans have urged Rubio to run despite a pledge during his presidential campaign not to seek re-election. They cited polls showing he is the only Republican who can win the state.
The deadline is June 24 for candidates to file with Florida election officials their intention to run for the Senate. The Republican primary election will be held on Aug. 30. (Reporting by Kouichi Shirayanagi and Richard Cowan; Editing by Susan Heavey and Jeffrey Benkoe)