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LeMieux Drops Out Of Florida’s GOP US Senate Race

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Former U.S. Senator George LeMieux

Former U.S. Senator George LeMieux

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campaign 2012 new2 LeMieux Drops Out Of Floridas GOP US Senate Race

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/AP) — Connie Mack IV doesn’t have much competition left in Florida’s Republican primary for Senate.

Former Sen. George LeMieux dropped out of the race Wednesday, saying that he can’t compete against Connie Mack IV’s famous name and the fact that the party establishment has gotten behind the congressman.

LeMieux, who was appointed to fill the last 16 months of Sen. Mel Martinez’ term, said he didn’t have the money for widespread television ads to counter Mack’s name recognition and Mack’s refusal to debate won’t allow voters statewide to compare the two.

He said his decision will give the party a better chance of beating Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in November.

“To continue would only hurt our chances in the fall, and that is not something that I will risk. Connie Mack will be our nominee. He has my support,” LeMieux said in a video emailed by the campaign to reporters and supporters.

But the support comes after months of attacking Mack. LeMieux called Mack the Charlie Sheen of Florida politics, pointing to a bar fight, an arrest and his messy divorce. LeMieux said Mack wasn’t fit to serve in the Senate.

A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed Mack ahead of LeMieux by more than 30 percentage points. Former Congressman Dave Weldon entered the primary just before qualifying, but has little money or name recognition outside the Space Coast district he used to serve. Mack is helped by the name he shares with his father, a former senator, and his great-grandfather, the Hall of Fame baseball manager.

Mack has racked up an impressive list of endorsements, including former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Congressman Mack issued the following statement regarding George LeMieux’s withdrawal from the race for U.S. Senate which reads in part:

“We welcome the latest statement from George LeMieux and agree that the internal fight among Republicans would not have been helpful in our shared commitment to defeat Bill Nelson. I welcome and thank George for his decision to support my campaign.”

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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