One of the top Florida Republicans running for Marco Rubio's Senate seat announced Friday he's dropping out of the race, fueling speculation that Rubio himself is preparing to reverse course and seek re-election to the seat.
Rep. David Jolly, who indicated earlier this week he was getting ready to bow out, confirmed Friday he will seek re-election to the House.
"It's clear the opportunity to change Washington, to do right by my community, is to simply ask for the opportunity to keep doing my job," he said in a statement.
The move comes as party elders increase pressure on Rubio to reconsider his decision to leave the Senate at the end of the year. Rubio, after denying interest for weeks, recently opened the door after the terror attack at a nightclub in Orlando.
“It really gives you pause to think a little bit about, you know, your service to your country and where you can be most useful to your country,” Rubio told radio host Hugh Hewitt during a Monday interview.
He added that he and his family “will be praying” about the decision and “we’ll see what I need to do next with my life in regards to how I can best serve.”
The former presidential candidate confirmed Wednesday he was thinking about running again. Jolly's decision to bow out could help clear the way for Rubio to enter.
The senator needs to decide in a matter of days, as he faces a June 24 filing deadline. With Jolly out, the field of Republicans is now down to four candidates, including Rubio’s close friend Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera.
Both Lopez-Cantera and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis have expressed a willingness to drop out if Rubio jumps back in. But real estate developer Carlos Beruff and Orlando businessman Todd Wilcox said they would not be pressured into abandoning their candidacies, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Beruff circulated a memo that implied Rubio was politically exploiting the Orlando tragedy.
“But we do now know that Sen. Rubio is by his own admission rethinking his decision not to run, and he is saying that his rethinking is somehow connected to the evil act of terrorism in Orlando,” wrote Beruff adviser Curt Anderson in a memo obtained by Politico.
The winner of the GOP primary will face off against either House Democrat Patrick Murphy or fellow Rep. Alan Grayson.
Florida's primary elections are Aug. 30.