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GOP’s Top Prospect Nixes Bid Against Grayson

Potential Republican challengers to freshman Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) began falling like dominoes Tuesday, leaving some Republican insiders wondering if the party is now destined for a contested primary in a district that is at the top of the national party’s target list.

The biggest blow for those hoping to avoid an expensive contested primary came when former state Sen. Dan Webster (R), who was seen as someone who could clear the GOP field, took his name out of consideration Tuesday afternoon.

“This has been a very difficult decision for me personally, especially because of the tremendous outpouring of support that has flooded me from all sides,— Webster said in a statement to the Florida press. “However, in spite of this incredible encouragement, I still have a certain check in my spirit, prompting me to follow a principle that has always served me well: ‘When in doubt, don’t.’—

That announcement was followed by the news that businessman Jerry Pierce, who had recently discussed putting a large amount of his personal fortune into a Congressional bid, reversed course and said he would not challenge Grayson.

The news of Webster’s and Pierce’s decisions comes a little more than a week after Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty passed on the race and just days after Orlando businessman Tim Seneff did the same.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s back to square one. I think there’s a lot of people who have been mulling over the idea but … have been waiting to see what Sen. Webster’s final decision would be, and now that that’s out there’s a lot of qualified people who can … decide if this is something they want to embark on,— Katie Gordon, spokeswoman for the Republican Party of Florida, said on Tuesday.

One well-known state legislator whose name is still in the mix is state Sen. Andy Gardiner (R). Also mentioned are real estate investor Armando Gutierrez, former pilot Dan Fanelli and conservative activist Patricia Sullivan.

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