As the leader of the Florida Senate, Mike Haridopolos is a one-man political machine... a machine powerful enough to have outraised every other republican in his campaign for the U.S. Senate.
And yet, he's dropping out...officially, to focus more of his time on his duties in Tallahassee.
"I'm very blessed to have a very talented Senate."
Especially in politics, not everything is as it appears, and there's plenty of speculation about what Haridopolos' real reason for getting out might be. Most insiders agree it probably has a lot to do with what happened here during the legislative session.
"I'm just a little flabbergasted."
The most powerful man in the legislature was handed two stinging defeats at the hands of his own party. A controversial immigration reform bill Haridopolos endorsed was voted down, and well past midnight on the final day of the session, he was outmaneuvered by the Speaker of the House.
"It's sometimes a sad commentary on politics," he said. "Politics got in the way today, and I'm embarrassed for it."
Many political veterans speculate the entire affair made Haridopolos look weak in the Senate race. They also point to what they call his shifting positions on other issues like high-speed rail, but republican consultant Pete Dunbar disagrees.
"I do think that we have - and this is true for both parties - that the extremes have a tendency to be overly aggressive in their attack mode," Dunbar said. "But, no, I don't see that Mike has changed his base philosophy one way or another."
Still, Haridopolos has been plagued by personal issues, like being paid well over $100,000 by a community college to write a book about campaigning. It became such a gossip item, the Capital Press Corps put on a dramatic reading of the book at its annual spoof show.
"Advice to the candidate - a cell phone will be essential!"
Whatever the reasons behind it, Haridopolos' departure is bound to benefit someone else in what's now a four-man race for the GOP nomination.
Next to Haridopolos, former appointed U.S. Senator George LeMieux has raised the most money, $950,000, in the last quarter. Also in the running are former state house majority leader Adam Hasner, retired Colonel Mike McCalister, and the former CEO of Ruth's Chris Steakhouse, Craig Miller.
The incumbent senator, democrat Bill Nelson, has so far raised $6 million for his re-election.
Polling Place Distirct 1A
WALTON PARK RECREATION CENTER - 122 WALTON PARK DRIVE
Polling Place District 1B
ANDREW BELLE COMMUNITY CENTER - 1270 LAKE STREET
Polling Place District 2A
ROY DRIGGERS BUILDING (CIVIC CENTER) - 126 N. ST. ANDREWS STREET
Polling Place District 2B
WIREGRASS RECREATION CENTER - 620 6TH AVENUE
Polling Place District 3A
HOUSTON COUNTY FARM CENTER - 1701 E. COTTONWOOD ROAD
Polling Place District 3B
NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY - 1842 3RD AVENUE
Polling Place District 4A
DOTHAN UTILITIES COMPLEX - 200 KILGORE DRIVE
Polling Place District 4B
DOUG TEW RECREATION CENTER - 300 GARLAND STREET
Polling Place District 5A
WESTGATE RECREATION CENTER - 501 RECREATION ROAD
Polling Place District 5B
WESLEY MANOR RETIREMENT CENTER - 718 HONEYSUCKLE ROAD
Polling Place District 6A
VAUGHN-BLUMBER CENTER - 2715 FLYNN ROAD
Polling Place District 6B
WIREGRASS COMMONS MALL COMMUNITY ROOM - 900 COMMONS DRIVE