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Connie Mack Struggles to Stay Politically Relevant

May 31, 2013 - 6:00pm

While these are not halcyon days for former Congressman Connie Mack, the Florida Republican is trying to keep a seat at the political table.

Mack ranks as one of the biggest losers of the 2012 election cycle. Despite high hopes from Republicans across the nation, Mack fizzled when he challenged U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson; the Democrat routed him by 13 points. While Mack had been one of Mitt Romneys chief supporters in Florida, he could not help the Republican presidential nominee carry the Sunshine State.

Not only did Mack lose in November, his then-wife, California Republican Mary Bono Mack, lost her congressional seat the same day. In May, Mack and Bono Mack announced they were divorcing.

Still, there are signs that Mack is trying to remain in the game. He continues to pitch his Penny Plan to reduce the size and cost of the federal government and it does have some prominent supporters in Washington, including U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., who is one of the leading hopefuls to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.

Mack is also trying to keep his bridges to the conservative movement intact. When the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) met earlier this year, despite his underwhelming performance against Nelson, Mack spoke to the group. Last week, he took to the pages of The Hill to slam the Obama administration on its handling of the IRS targeting conservative groups and the Benghazi situation.

The former congressman is clearly staying around in Washington. Back in April, Mack announced he was joining Liberty Partners to help that firms clients deal with regulatory and legislative strategies. Jeff Cohen, a close legislative and political aide to Mack, also joined Liberty Partners with his former boss.

"Congressman Mack's joining Liberty Partners Group adds significant capabilities to the firm in a variety of key domestic and international areas, said Andrew Woods, the chairman and managing partner of Liberty Partners Group, when Mack joined on. His extensive experience and relationships are an invaluable addition to our clients and team. Liberty Partners Group is honored to have Congressman Mack join us."

But if Mack still has something of a perch in Washington, its unclear where, if anywhere, he can go in Florida politics. Trey Radel holds the congressional seat Mack left to run for the Senate and appears secure there. Mack could run for the Senate again but, after his poor performance against Nelson, he will find it more challenging raising funds and can expect tougher Republican opposition in the primary.

In short, for the moment, Mack has nowhere to go in terms of elected office. Certainly, he has enough pull in Washington to get an appointment if the Republicans win the White House in 2016. As a former chairman of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee, Mack could be a major player on Latin American affairs for a future Republican administration. But, even though he is only 45, Macks options for a political comeback appear slim in the short term.

Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.

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