Carlos Beruff, a Manatee County developer who leads Gov. Rick Scott's hospital commission, said on Tuesday that he has not ruled out making a late entry into Florida's U.S. Senate race, but denied reports that he has already met with the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee and is close to making a decision.
Beruff said anyone claiming he met with the RSCC, should be on the lookout for an "imposter."
Beruff said some friends and allies have told him he should consider the race and he said he'll look at it. But he said the idea is in its infancy and he is not close to making a decision if it is something he'd want to do.
The U.S. Senate race already has a crowded GOP primary forming with U.S. Reps Ron DeSantis and David Jolly, Florida Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and Todd Wilcox. They are seeking the seat being vacated by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio.
Beruff, 58, has been the chairman of Scott's hospital commission since its inception in May 2015. That commission has been charged with looking at how taxpayer-supported hospitals spend their money and other costs and outcomes related to health care services. The commission held its final meeting on Tuesday in Tallahassee.
Beruff said in a short interview that if he runs for the Senate it would be because he thinks he can get something done in Washington and can give something back to a "country that has been so good to me."
Beruff, who grew up poor in Miami, is a multi-millionaire who in 1984 started Medallion Home, which is now one of the biggest residential land development companies in Manatee County. He has never held elective office, but over the last six years has been increasing his political stock on local and state government boards. He's been a member of the Sarasota-Manatee Airport Authority, the Southwest Florida Water Management District Board and the State College of Florida Board of Trustees, where his questioning led to dramatic changes in the Manatee County school's leadership team.
Beruff has been a major campaign contributors to Republicans causes, according to Federal Election Commission records. Since 2006, Beruff and his wife have donated nearly $160,000 to Republicans including $5,000 to Right to Rise, a political committee backing former Gov. Jeb Bush's campaign for the White House. Beruff has also hosted fundraisers for Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, and supported U.S. Reps. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami, in their re-election campaigns.