Politics & Government

Carlos Beruff ready to self-fund $15M more for Senate race, even against Marco Rubio

By Jeremy Wallace

Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau

Carlos Beruff reassured his campaign staff late Monday he has no intention of backing out of his bid to win a seat in the Senate and is ready to open his wallet even further to get it done.

Beruff, a Manatee County land developer who has already spent more than $4 million of his own money to run for the seat, told his staff he’s prepared to put another $10 million to $15 million into the race to win the Republican primary according to sources in the meeting.

Campaign spokesman Chris Hartline would not comment on the meeting, but said the campaign is ramping up advertising, which includes signing contracts with television stations for advertising that will run through next week.

The commitment comes as Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has said he is considering changing his mind and running for re-election, partly because the shootings in Orlando gave him “pause” to think about how he can best serve. Rubio has not said when he will make a decision, but it has to be before noon Friday — the deadline to qualify for the Senate race.

Five Republicans were initially in the race to replace Rubio in the Senate. Beruff and Orlando area businessman Todd Wilcox have said they are not intimidated by the prospect of running against Rubio and those campaigns have cited the fact Rubio lost 66 counties to Donald Trump in Florida’s Republican presidential primary in March.

Rep. David Jolly has already dropped out of the race, and Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera is expected to drop out if his friend Rubio gets into the race. Rep. Ron DeSantis’ campaign has said they are ignoring the Rubio rumors. If Rubio gets in, there is speculation DeSantis would instead run for re-election to the House.

Jolly’s exit opened the playing field for the Republican candidates. Jolly, through two highly publicized campaigns, had an advantage in the Tampa Bay media market. With him out, Tampa Bay — which represents about a quarter of all Republican primary voters — is now wide open. Beruff, who has lived in Manatee and Sarasota counties, is banking on being able to make headway in the region with Jolly out.