CFO Atwater decides against Senate run

click to enlarge State CFO Jeff Atwater, not a Senate candidate - wikimedia commons
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State CFO Jeff Atwater, not a Senate candidate

Assuming Senator Marco Rubio's big announcement Monday affirms a presidential bid (run, manatees, run!), speculation over who will run to replace him will get louder, especially for Republicans, given state CFO Jeff Atwater says a 2016 U.S. Senate run is not his thing, man.

"While I have certainly taken these words of support under consideration, I will not be a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016," the Republican said Saturday. "I remain committed to only one endeavor and that is to be the best CFO I can be for the people of Florida."

It was a move that, as the News Service of Florida put it, "surprised the state's political establishment."

He was probably the best-known person named as a possible GOP contender for the seat, at least after Attorney General Pam Bondi took her name out of the running. An assortment of possible Republican contenders are still milling about, including Lieutenant Governor Carlos Lopez-Cantera and former Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford.

Democrats have one announced/anointed candidate, West Palm Beach area Congressman Patrick Murphy.

But the party could have a kerfuffle on its hands if Orlando-area Congressman Alan Grayson, a favorite of progressives, also goes for it.

We're hearing conflicting accounts from party insiders on whether he'll run, so stay tuned. If he does, it'll probably be a great show; fireworks, the whole shebang.

Murphy and his people are already hard at work meeting and greeting Democrats outside his district. He was in Tampa Friday pitching his spiel to a virtual who's-who of Hillsborough Democrats. He touted his desire to reach across the aisle in order to do meaningful things.

"It's about results. It's about getting things done," he told the roomful of people in the private function area of Mise en Place. "We of course all have our principles and everything we're going to stay strong to ...When I was first elected, I get to Washington, DC and the very first thing that they do is they put all the Republicans in a room for a few weeks and they put all the Democrats in a room ...How in the world are you going to get to know somebody on the other side? You might all of a sudden realize that the person on the other side of the aisle has an issue that they care about that's similar."

Murphy, who successfully ran against cray Tea Party incumbent Allen West, used to be a Republican, and people in the audience wanted to know why he made the switch. He said he registered as a Republican when he first registered to vote, but became disillusioned with the party over President George W. Bush's administration misleading the American public over the invasion of Iraq, and switched to a D.

Murphy's former GOP affiliation and siding with the opposition on things like the Keystone Pipeline aren't sitting well with progressives, who are tired of what they see as state Democrats' insistence on running moderates who ignore progressive causes in order to appeal to the state's many swing voters.

Ahead of the event, two young guys were standing near the entrance of Mise en Place with signs criticizing Murphy for being too far to the right. It's unclear why they were there; neither would say his last name or the organization with which the two were affiliated, nor would they go on record. It was weird and probably should be noted.

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