Republican former Attorney General Bill McCollum confirms that he's been calling prominent Republicans about possibly running for U.S. Senate.
"I certainly have an interest, but I'm just considering it," said McCollum, 70, who ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate against Bill Nelson in 2000 and in 2010 lost the Republican gubernatorial primary to a wealthy newcomer named Rick Scott.
McCollum said his phone started ringing with people encouraging him after Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater surprised most of the Florida's political world by announcing he would not run, and then even more when a mid-April Mason-Dixon poll showed him easily beating other potential candidates (pulling 20 percent support among Republican voters, compared to the next strongest Republican, U.S. Rep. David Jolly of Pinellas who had 8 percent support).
McCollum was by far the most recognized of seven names polled, with 29 percent of Republicans saying they had a favorable opinion of him, 7 percent unfavorable, 29 percent saying they recognized the name and had a neutral opinion, and 25 percent not recognizing him.
"I'm being told by other people in the party that there are concerns that the other potential candidates are not well known as we need to hold the seat," McCollum said of the potential field of Republicans that includes Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and U.S. Reps. Ron DeSantis and Jeff Miller.
McCollum is in no rush to decide anything, saying he would likely make a firm decision "sometime this summer."
"Maybe someone else will emerge in the meantime," said McCollum, a longtime former congressman from the Orlando area who works at the Denton law firm focusing on state attorney general issues.
--ADAM C. SMITH, Tampa Bay Times