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Todd Wilcox dropping out of race for U.S. Senate

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Todd Wilcox is dropping out of the U.S. Senate race in Florida.

Sources close to Wilcox’s decision say his withdrawal from the race is imminent and that he will support Marco Rubio for the good of the Republican Party.

The former Special Forces commander and CIA veteran becomes the fourth Republican to drop out of the contest after Rubio decided to run for re-election to his seat, after repeatedly saying he would not.

Wilcox denied that he would drop out just two days ago, citing his decades of experience in national security and the economy and declaring “none of that has changed based on yet another career politician entering this race.”

But something did change in the last 48 hours.

Perhaps it was the results of a poll conducted on Wednesday showing Wilcox trailing Rubio by more than 50 percentage points.

In any event, Manatee County developer Carlos Beruff is now the only Republican left standing in the way of Rubio winning the GOP primary Aug. 30.

Wilcox entered the contest last year on the 4th of July, where he declared in his announcement video he was “fed up with the status quo of career politicians … and I am running for the U.S. Senate to restore America’s prominence.”

A graduate of Tampa’s Robinson High School and the University of Tampa, Wilcox had an extensive career in the U.S. military and CIA before entering the private sector in 2006.

Wilcox released this statement Friday morning:

“A year ago I decided to run for the United States Senate because I firmly believe that who we are as a nation is being challenged by evil threats around the world and, sometimes just as dangerously, by liberal influences here at home. I entered this race because I know in my gut that if we are to reverse course and preserve the liberties and freedoms so many brave men and women have laid down their lives in pursuit of, we must keep this seat in the Republican Party.

“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.

“We must bring to an end this era of politics in Florida where deep pockets go to great lengths to buy elections — dismissing voters as nothing more than ratings points in a media buy, forsaking the grass roots advocates for whom the Republican Party exists and refusing to substantively debate the most important issues facing our state and nation.

“Elections have consequences and eleven days ago an enemy I know all too well horrifically ended 49 lives and forever changed countless more just 15 miles from where I tucked my family in that night. It’s easy to get caught up in the ideological theater that unfolds in Washington, D.C., but Orlando should serve as a reminder that life and death decisions are being made each and every day by the people we elect.

“While I support Donald Trump because he is the Republican nominee, I can’t predict who will win the White House in November. What I can do is impact who Florida sends to the United States Senate to challenge our next President should they try to dismantle our Constitution, put politics above principle or choose to ignore the needs of our servicemen and women, both past and present.

“As a leader, I have always taught my team that changing course after devising a plan doesn’t mean you give up on the mission, it just means you have to find a new path. So today, with a clear understanding of the impact that recent changes have had in this race, that’s just what I’m going to do.

“With all that is at stake, I have decided to end my campaign for the United Senate and support Marco Rubio in his bid to keep this seat in the Republican Party. Senator Rubio and I don’t agree on everything. We’ve traveled 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 Murphy or Alan Grayson in November. We cannot allow either of these liberal Democrats to carry on the disastrous policies of the Obama administration — Floridians deserve better.

“Unless you’ve experienced it, it’s hard to explain what traveling all over this great state for the last year has been like. I’ve talked to so many people who genuinely and thoughtfully want to share their ideas about how to make our country the best it can possibly be. I am grateful to each and every hardworking conservative I met along the way who took time away from their families, their work or their weekends to give me a chance to earn their support. I am humbled by the encouragement of my supporters and the depth of their faith and confidence in me. I don’t take any of this lightly and it is something I will never be able to thank them for enough.

“To our volunteers and my team, I am forever grateful for your hard work, professionalism and commitment to the mission.

“Finally, I want to thank my wife Christine and our girls, Tori, Danielle and Hayden for their patience, understanding and support over the last year. It has always been and will continue to be because of them that I fight for our great nation, whether on the battlefield, in my business or at the ballot box.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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