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Posey opts not to run and backs successor just before deadline

Florida Republican cites unnamed ‘circumstances beyond my control’

Florida Republican Rep. Bill Posey, 76, announced his retirement and support for a successor just before the deadline for candidates to file to run.
Florida Republican Rep. Bill Posey, 76, announced his retirement and support for a successor just before the deadline for candidates to file to run. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A last-minute switch could send a former leader of the Florida Legislature to Congress in place of eight-term Republican Rep. Bill Posey, who announced his retirement and backed a successor just before the deadline to get on the primary ballot.

Posey, who had received former President Donald Trump’s endorsement for another term in March, announced Friday that he won’t seek reelection in the solidly GOP 8th District and threw his support behind former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

First elected in 2008, Posey said in a statement that he had been “looking forward to another spirited campaign for a final term in office” and believed based on polls he “could remain in the job forever.” His campaign reported having $579,000 on hand on March 31, a modest sum when compared with colleagues in battleground districts but more than five times the bankroll of anyone else running.

But in his retirement announcement, Posey, 76, said “circumstances beyond my control now require me to suspend my reelection campaign.” He said he would continue to serve his current term, which runs through January.

Haridopolos filed paperwork to run for the seat just before Friday’s filing deadline. “For many years, Mike has served as my Congressional Finance Committee Chairman, while I have mentored him to replace me. Mike was, and remains, my first choice to represent you, me, and our district in Congress,” Posey said. “Without going into a lot of personal details, stars aligned during the past week and Mike decided he was ready for Congress. I enthusiastically endorse him and will do everything I can to help him get elected.”

Two other Republicans, Joe Babits and John Hearton, have also qualified for the Aug. 20 primary ballot, but Haridopolos, a state lawmaker turned lobbyist, quickly picked up key endorsements from Rep. Anna Paulina Luna of Florida and Fox News contributor and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, among others.

Posey is the 15th House Republican to say they will retire and not run for another term. Five other members of the conference chose to run for another office, five have resigned and one has been expelled.

Posey represents a stretch of Florida that includes the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral and is known as the Space Coast. A member of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, he has taken pride in understanding and leveraging cutting-edge technology and space exploration. 

He’s been a supporter of Speaker Mike Johnson but voted against the foreign aid bill Johnson backed.

Nick Eskow contributed to this report.

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