Conservative leader Dan Bongino, an ally of former U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., opened the door to running for the U.S. Senate in 2016.
With state CFO Jeff Atwater again closing the door to a Senate run on Thursday, Bongino hinted to the Shark Tank that he could run in either 2016 or 2018. Earlier this year, Bongino looked at running for the U.S. House seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., in 2016 but decided not to run.
A former New York City cop and Secret Service agent, Bongino was the Republican candidate who challenged U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., in 2012. Cardin routed Bongino, taking 55 percent while the Republican won only 27 percent of the vote and independent Rob Sobhani carried 17 percent.
Later, Bongino shocked the political world and almost pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the election cycle when he lost to U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., by a narrow margin in a district where the Democrats have the advantage.
Since then, Bongino and his family moved from Maryland to Palm City on Florida's Treasure Coast. Bongino has remained active through his Battleground Resistance PAC to help conservative candidates run for federal office. Bongino told Sunshine State News earlier this year that Battleground Resistance will help conservatives who are opposed to the anti-D.C., insider crowd run for office, adding the PAC will back really exceptional candidates change politics.
“They’re not willing to genuflect before the Golden Calf of the establishment,” Bongino told Sunshine State News earlier this year about the conservatives Battleground Resistance will support in 2016. Bongino is also growing more active in Florida with a speech scheduled at the Villages on Monday.
Bongino has remained busy since losing to Delaney. He hosts radio shows, including filling in for Sean Hannity and Mark Levin, and has his own podcast. In 2013, Bongino’s “Life Inside the Bubble,” an account of his time with the Secret Service, was a bestseller and he has “The Fight," a new book, coming out in January.
In 2012, when he ran for Senate, West backed Bongino through his Guardian Fund PAC. While Murphy narrowly beat him in 2012, West, a favorite of the tea party movement, remained active and endorsed Bongino’s congressional efforts in October 2013, more than a year before the election.For his part, Bongino spoke at an event West held in South Florida in the spring of 2014.
West offered Bongino praise and support during the 2014 campaign. In January 2014, West emailed supporters to highlight the congressional candidate.
“Dan served in the elite Secret Service Presidential Protection Division under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama," West wrote. “During his time protecting Obama, Dan witnessed some things that deeply disturbed him, and ultimately motivated him to seek office. Now he's speaking out and in turn, he's receiving a whole host of criticism and baseless attacks.
“Dan Bongino is a true American hero,” West added. “He put his life on the line to protect two presidents, and I have no doubt he'll guard our conservative values and the Constitution with the same valor.”
If he runs, Bongino would face four other candidates in the Republican primary. U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and David Jolly, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and businessman Todd Wilcox are running in the primary. Former Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has opened the door to running.
For his part, Bongino weighed in on social media after Atwater announced he wasn’t running. “This race needs a shakeup,” Bongino noted on Facebook. “We cannot lose this seat.” He also asked supporters on Twitter for their thoughts on his entering the Senate race.
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