Florida Gov. Charlie Crist says he is abandoning the Republican Senate primary to run as an independent.
Crist's decision Thursday to drop out of the Aug. 24 primary comes amid plummeting support from conservatives and polls showing he would lose to tea party favorite Marco Rubio.
He says people want someone who is more concerned about standing up for them than about standing up for special interests or party.
The move sets up a probable three-way race between Crist, Rubio and Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek in November's general election.
Crist was leading in the polls a year ago until he angered conservatives by embracing President Barack Obama and his $787 billion federal stimulus plan.