Updated at 5:50 p.m.
After months of flirting with a run, Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., has decided not to jump into the crowded Florida Senate race, he announced Tuesday.
"Although I have been encouraged to run for U.S. Senate, I can have a greater impact serving people as Florida's only member of the influential House Ways and Means Committee, which will be deciding major issues such as tax reform, health care, and international trade," said Buchanan in a statement.
After state Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R) dropped out of the race in July, speculation intensified that Buchanan might mount a bid. But Buchanan also has had to deal with allegations of ethics violations, which could have become an issue in a Senate campaign.
Four Republicans are already vying for the GOP nomination, including former Sen. George LeMieux and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner. Polling suggests Sunshine State Republicans haven't yet coalesced around a challenger to Sen. Bill Nelson and there is room for another candidate to enter the race.
Hasner narrowly won the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll on Friday, edging out Ret. Army Col. Mike McCalister.
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