In the crowed Republican primary to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is backing state Rep. Ross Spano.
This week, Rubio announced his support of Spano who left the state attorney general race back in April when Ross surprised the Florida political world when he announced he was leaving Congress after four terms which saw him move into the leadership as senior deputy majority whip. With U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., retiring, Ross had been expected to compete for a more senior leadership post.
Rubio endorsed Spano on Twitter on Thursday.
“Today, I am excited to endorse my friend Ross Spano for Congress,” Rubio wrote. “He is a rock solid conservative, who stands strong for what he believes and always defends our conservative way of life.”
“Honored and thankful to receive the endorsement today of Senator Marco Rubio,” Spano replied.
Polls show Spano ahead in the crowded Republican primary which takes place at the end of August though many voters remain undecided. Other candidates include former state Rep. Neil Combee who also served on the Polk County Commission, businessman Sean Harper, executive Danny Kushmer and community activist Ed Shoemaker.
Earlier this week, Florida Politics reported on a St. Pete’s Poll which showed Spano with 32 percent, ahead of Combee who pulled 20 percent. However, a plurality of those surveyed–37 percent–remain undecided. The other Republicans lag behind in low single digits with 4 percent for Shoemaker, 3 percent for Harper and 2 percent for Kushmer.
Rubio becomes the second Republican holding statewide office to support Spano’s congressional bid. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who faces term limits this year, has also endorsed Spano.
Kevin Derby can be reached at Kevin.Derby@floridadaily.com.