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Florida: Gelber In, McCollum Out of Senate Race

Two months after Sen. Mel Martinez (R) announced his retirement, and with the presumed frontrunners in both parties having passed on the race, the field is starting to grow.

State Sen. Dan Gelber (D) threw his hat into the ring for the Senate race Tuesday. Though well-known around Miami, the former federal prosecutor will need to boost his name ID in the rest of the state in order to win the Democratic nomination. A recent Quinnipiac University poll gave Gelber just 1 percent in a hypothetical matchup of several announced and possible Democratic candidates. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D), who launched his campaign for Senate two weeks ago, took 13 percent in that poll.

While Democratic Reps. Allen Boyd and Ron Klein have signaled that they are considering the race, another Democratic name to emerge recently is Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, state Attorney General Bill McCollum signaled Wednesday that he will likely pass on the Senate race. McCollum lost the GOP nomination to Martinez in 2004.

“Unless circumstances change it is my intention, at the appropriate time, to announce that I will be seeking re-election as Florida’s Attorney General,” he said in a statement.

Other Republicans eyeing the race include Reps. Connie Mack IV and Vern Buchanan and former state Speaker Marco Rubio.

Meanwhile, Rep. Adam Putnam’s (R) name has not been mentioned among the possible Senate contenders, but he has expressed interest in running for a downballot statewide office next year. He told Roll Call on Wednesday that he plans to make an announcement about his 2010 plans in the next few weeks.

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