With buzz starting to develop that state CFO Jeff Atwater could enter the contest, the leading Republican candidates looking to knock off Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November attempted to position themselves and claim momentum in the primary battle.
U.S. Rep. Connie Macks team brought out their candidates father -- former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III who held the seat for two terms before retiring before the 2000 election cycle -- on Wednesday.
The former senator came out swinging at a piece published in the Miami Herald and the Tampa Bay Times over the weekend that insisted his sons campaign was underwhelming. The Miami Herald also published a piece on Wednesday that maintained the campaign of former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, Macks main rival in the Republican primary,was in trouble. On Monday, in a blog piece on the Mack camps response to the possibility of Atwater entering the contest, the Tampa Bay Times ran a picture of Alfred E. Neuman, the iconic mascot of Mad Magazine, asking his catch phrase question, What, me worry?
In an email sent out to supporters of his son and prominent Republicans across the state on Wednesday, the elder Mack slammed the piece on his son as transparent and partisan. He also said the papers have a history of such behavior, wanting his Democrat opponent in the 1988 Senate election -- Buddy MacKay who would go on to serve as governor for less than a month after the death of Lawton Chiles in late 1998 -- "to win.
Calling the article on his son ridiculous and outrageous, the elder Mack accused the left-wing media of being in full attack mode on a mission to save and promote Bill Nelson and Barack Obama.
The Mack campaign insisted their candidate remained in solid shape in the Senate race on Wednesday, noting that the congressman had won a straw poll held at the Sayfie Review over his primary rivals and had won the backing of the prominent American Conservative Union earlier in the week.
From his proven leadership on pro-growth economic policies and energy independence solutions to his courageous efforts to bring attention to dangerous and tyrannical regimes across the world, it is clear Connie Mack is the innovative, conservative leader ready to take on Bill Nelson this fall, said Al Cardenas, the chairman of the ACU and former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, after his group endorsed Mack on Tuesday.
Liberals in the Senate have rubber-stamped President Obamas agenda, and now it is time for voters to hold them accountable, Cardenas added. Congressman Mack is one of many great conservatives running for Senate across the country, and the American Conservative Union PAC is proud to endorse him. The ACU PAC urges all Florida conservatives to support Connie Mack for U.S. Senate, and we look forward to aiding his victory in both the primary and general elections.
With the help and support of conservatives across the Sunshine State, I will continue to fight for freedom, security and prosperity -- fundamental ideals critical to reclaiming American exceptionalism, Mack said after winning the endorsement.
LeMieux continued to attack Mack on Wednesday, sending out an email to supporters slamming Mack for missing congressional votes while he is on the campaign trail.
Connie Mack the Fourth is becoming famous in Washington, LeMieux insisted, pointing to a report from Politico that Mack missed 41 percent of congressional votes this year. Not for strong leadership or introducing pivotal legislation, but for missing votes. LeMieux bashed Mack for missing votes on the Ryan Budget, a highway reauthorization bill, and repealing parts of Obamacare.
LeMieux wondered if Mack would miss a vote on a small-business tax cut in the House on Thursday.
This legislation will positively impact nearly 400,000 job creators in Florida, letting them keep their hard-earned money to hire unemployed Floridians, LeMieux maintained. Will Connie Mack the Fourth take time out of his busy schedule to protect Floridas small businesses? Or will he once again put his own agenda ahead of his constituents best interest.
A poll released on Wednesday from Public Policy Polling (PPP), a firm with connections to prominent Democrats,found that Nelson was leading Mack by 10 percent, LeMieux by 14 percent and businessman and retired Army officer Mike McCalister by 12 percent. However, the poll shows that a third of the voters remain unsure of Nelson despite his four decades in Florida politics and he fails to break 50 percent against any of the Republican hopefuls.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859.