'You never say never," said Chris Ruddy, a 46-year-old media entrepreneur, when asked if he'd run for U.S. Senate.
In giving his answer, the founder of the wildly successful conservative Newsmax was channelling his best Jeb Bush, who refused to all but rule out a presidential bid on Sean Hannity's FOX show a few days back. Remember: Bush said appearing on Dancing with the Stars was not unlikely, either. And neither Bush nor Ruddy are ready to tango with voters.
"I'd say it's unlikely," Ruddy said of a run. Conservative attack dog Roger Stone (who favors another millionaire, Nick Loeb) reported on Twitter that Ruddy, though, is still considering the bid. True. Ruddy wouldn't rule out a run for some public office, either this year or in the future.
Here's a big reason why: Tony Fabrizio might be in Ruddy's corner. Fabrizio, mastermind behind Gov. Rick Scott's improbable 2010 victory, was spotted dining with Ruddy at Macaluso's in South Beach on Friday. It's the same Italian restaurant where Fabrizio had a sit-down with Scott and his family before he decided to make the plunge.
Unlike Scott, Ruddy wouldn't come to the race with the baggage of bad press clips. In fact, Ruddy used to produce them about President Bill Clinton and the like when he wrote for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. He's also probably not as wealthy as Scott, but Ruddy likely has millions. And it could cost about $25 million for him to win a Senate seat. He'd have to best Republican frontrunners Adam Hasner and George LeMieux and then take on incumbent Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
But Ruddy also has a growing media empire to run. Newsmax has become one of the most influential publications in conservative circles. It even considered buying Newsweek. Ruddy was backing Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos for Senate before he withdrew from the race earlier this month.
Ruddy and Loeb aren't the only newcomers whispered about in Republican circles. Peter Schiff, a financial guru who unsuccessfully ran for Senate in Connecticut last year, was rumored to be considering a bid as well. His spokesman and brother, Andrew Schiff, threw cold water on the idea. Schiff was one of the first voices on cable to predict with chilling accuracy the recession (click here to watch him make Art Laffer look clueless on the economy).
Schiff has a home in Boca Raton. Loeb has a home in Delray Beach. Hasner is from Delray, too. And Ruddy lives in West Palm Beach. What's in the water in Palm Beach County?