(CNN) -Rep. Connie Mack has decided not to run for Senate, the Florida Republican announced Friday, a surprise to some political watchers who had considered him the likely frontrunner in what is expected to be a crowded field vying to take on incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
In an interview with the St. Petersburg Times Friday, the three-term congressman cited personal reasons for his decision not to enter the race.
"I've got two small children and it's hard enough to get to spend a lot of good quality time now. I have a wife. They are all very important to me and at the end of the day family has to be number one," he said.
State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner are among those Republicans said to be considering a bid.
Mack is the son of former Sen. Connie Mack. He is also married to California Rep. Mary Bono Mack.