MANATEE -- Carlos Beruff is making it official: He is running for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
The Manatee County homebuilder's campaign staff informed the media Wednesday, as they announced stops Beruff plans to make around the state Monday to officially throw his hat into the ring. He has not yet filed any official paperwork for the seat with elections officials.
Beruff, president of Medallion Home and an appointed member of several public boards, indicated several weeks ago that he was considering a run for the seat being vacated by presidential candidate and Florida junior Sen. Marco Rubio. He joins a race already heavily populated by Republicans, including Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and businessman Todd Wilcox. Democratic U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy and Alan Grayson are also running.
Jolly campaign spokesman Max Goodman delivered a biting retort to news of Beruff's planned entry into the race.
"Bad day for DeSantis as he sees his money advantage evaporate. Embarrassing day for the lieutenant governor as he sees his own boss turn his back on him. Horrifying day for Sarasota and Manatee counties as they see man best known for poisoning homes with Chinese drywall getting on ballot," Goodman said.
In a promotional and biographical video released by the Beruff campaign Wednesday, the 58-year-old is portrayed as a self-made businessman who came from an impoverished background. Born in Miami in 1958 to Cuban parents, he, his mother and his stepfather immigrated to the U.S. in 1961. In the video, titled "Come Hell or High Water," he details the jobs he had earlier in life, including time spent selling houses for U.S. Home.
Beruff founded Medallion Home in 1984. Headquartered in the Whitfield industrial district south of Bradenton, the company recorded its highest-ever sales in 2013, over $100 million.
Speaking in the video, Beruff said he will bring a business owner's perspective to the Senate. He takes issue with federal programs, including the Affordable Care Act.
He also rails against business regulations and taxes.
"Government doesn't create jobs," he said. "It creates dependency. It just takes."
Kyle Plotkin, a senior adviser working for Beruff, said Beruff's schedule will begin with him announcing his run at 9 a.m. Monday at the iconic Miami breakfast spot Vicky Bakery. He will then travel to Orlando and Jacksonville for media events. At 4:30 p.m., he will hold a press conference at the Medallion Home headquarters at 1651 Whitfield Ave. in Manatee.
"As this race plays out, people will see Carlos as the most conservative candidate in the campaign," Plotkin said Wednesday.
The Senate run will be Beruff's first try for elected office. He has, however, functioned as a political appointee over the past few years at the behest of two Republican governors. He was appointed to the State College of Florida board of trustees in 2008 by then-Gov. Charlie Crist, and again in 2012 by Gov. Rick Scott. He is currently president of the Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority. Scott also named Beruff to his Commission on Healthcare and Hospital Funding last May.
Last September, Beruff resigned his position as a board member with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
Beruff is a prolific Republican donor. Public records show that Beruff and his wife Janelle have donated more than $600,000 to state and federal political campaigns since 2002.
In his business dealings and on his commission appointments, Beruff has stirred controversy. Most recently, he introduced a measure to eliminate tenure for future faculty at State College of Florida. The policy was approved last month.
As president of the college's board of trustees, Beruff also went head to head with the college's former president, Lars Hafner, something that eventually led to Hafner's resignation in 2012.
Plotkin said this work is emblematic of Beruff's style.
"He has challenged conventional wisdom and he has challenged status quo," he said.
Beruff has also been entangled in a years-long battle with Manatee County over his proposed 3,200-home Aqua by the Bay subdivision at Long Bar Pointe. Blocked from developing a marina and other water and near-water uses on the property, he sued the county for $18 million late last year. The suit was dismissed by a Manatee County judge in January.
Beruff and Aqua business partner Larry Lieberman have since filed an appeal with the Second District Court of Appeals in Lakeland.
Matt M. Johnson, Herald business reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7027 or on Twitter @MattAtBradenton.
Jeremy Wallace, Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau reporter, contributed to this story.