Conservative leader Dan Bongino announced he would not run for the U.S. Senate and threw his support to another Republican who is hoping to replace U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Bongino had mulled over the possibility of entering the Senate last year. 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 2014 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 last 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 last year about the conservatives Battleground Resistance will support in 2016.
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.
On Thursday, Bongino closed the door on the Senate bid, informing supporters he would back U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., in the Republican primary to replace Rubio.
“Many of you have asked me about my political future and about endorsements for 2016 and it's time to answer those questions,” Bongino insisted. “I will not be running for Florida's open United States Senate seat in 2016. I made this decision because, after careful deliberation, and numerous personal conversations, I feel that we have a superb candidate for the seat already in the race. That candidate is Congressman Ron DeSantis.
“I have spoken with the congressman and am absolutely confident that he will not only talk the talk about the critical importance of preserving the liberties we have, and fighting to win back the liberties we are losing, but he will also walk the walk and fight the fights,” Bongino added. “Walking away wasn't an easy decision but, after getting to know Ron DeSantis, I am confident that he is the right man at the right time.”
In 2012, when he ran for Senate, Bongino had the support of then-U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., through his Guardian Fund PAC. While Democrat Patrick 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.”
With Bongino on the sidelines, DeSantis faces businessman Carlos Beruff, U.S. Rep. David Jolly, R-Fla., Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera and businessman and Army veteran Todd Wilcox in the Republican primary.
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