Florida Rep. David Jolly said he is abandoning his plans to run for the Senate seat left empty by the retirement of Sen. Marco Rubio. Jolly's move could indicate Rubio is considering jumping into the race. Photo courtesy U.S. House of Representatives
ORLANDO, Fla., June 17 (UPI) -- Florida Rep. David Jolly is running for re-election to the House and dropping plans to pursue a Senate campaign, the surest sign yet that Sen. Marco Rubio will hop into the contest for his seat and abandon plans to retire.
Jolly told supporters in a post on his Facebook page he wants to continue serving in the House so he can continue to "do my day job."
"The more I traveled our remarkable state, the more dedicated I became to the opportunity before me, the opportunity to continue to do my day job," Jolly said. "I wasn't willing to miss votes, so I didn't. I wasn't willing to skip out on committee hearings and intelligence briefings, so I didn't. I wasn't willing to spend my days fundraising, and I wasn't willing to turn my back on families in need that I had sworn to help. I wasn't willing to violate the public trust.
"A year later, it's clear the opportunity to change Washington, to do right by my community, is to simply ask for the opportunity to keep doing my job."
Jolly told CNN on Friday it was his understanding Rubio would get back in the race.
GOP leaders have asked Rubio to reconsider his plan to leave office entirely after his presidential campaign failed, and instead run for re-election to the Senate, where his vacant seat was a top target for Democrats in 2016.
Rubio had steadfastly declined to get back into the Senate race despite pleas from his GOP Senate colleagues, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but that may have changed in the wake of the Orlando, Fla., nightclub shooting and a conversation with a friend who is also in the race to succeed Rubio.
In the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub killing, Rubio spoke with longtime friend, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, who told the senator he should consider running for re-election for the good of the country, and that he would get out of the race if Rubio did so.
Rubio has not said publicly he will enter the race -- he has until June 24 to file petitions to get on the ballot.
No one from a crowded primary field of Republicans had thus far gained much traction in the campaign and GOP leaders, who are trying to defend a Senate majority, were concerned the open seat race would hand Democrats a prime pick-up opportunity.
As for Jolly, the prospect of running for re-election in the House is a daunting one. His district has been redrawn and now leans for more Democratic. The 13th District seat has also drawn a high-profile Democratic candidate, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist and the Cook Political Report lists it as a "likely Democratic" pickup in the fall.