State Politics

Bennett: I won’t be Senate president

MANATEE — Friendship and a desire to spend more time with his family has prompted Sen. Mike Bennett to withdraw from the race to be the Florida Senate’s next president.

Bennett, R-Bradenton, said Monday he has taken his name out of the running and is now backing Sen. Mike Haridopolos for the leadership post.

“My wife and I pretty much decided during our summer vacation that there were other things we want to do with our lives than run the Senate,” Bennett said. “It (being Senate president) takes an unbelievable amount of time.”

The Senate presidency was widely considered a two-man race between Bennett and Haridopolos, a Melbourne Republican. Bennett’s withdrawal now paves the way for Haridopolos to lead the GOP-controlled Senate in the 2010 session.

“Mike and I, we go back a long time,” said Bennett. “We’ve always worked well together and we decided long ago that we would help each other out.”

The men served together in the House from 2000 to 2002, when Bennett was elected to the Senate. Haridopolos joined the Senate after winning a special election in 2003.

While he won’t be president, that friendship likely will secure Bennett a high-ranking position.

“Mike has assured me that I will be a part of the Senate leadership,” Bennett said.