GOP Senate Hopeful Mike McCalister Plays Up Experience in His Bid to Challenge Bill Nelson

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: August 1, 2012 3:55 AM
Mike McCalister

Mike McCalister

As he seeks the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November, Mike McCalister hopes that voters will compare his background and experience to other GOP hopefuls in the primary in less than two weeks.

“We’re hiring people to do a job,” McCalister told Sunshine State News. Insisting that he is well-poised to handle the “constitutional duties” assigned to the Senate, McCalister believes his background has prepared him for higher service.

McCalister raised some eyebrows when he took more than 10 percent in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010. While he finished far behind Rick Scott and then-Attorney General Bill McCollum, McCalister did not have the campaign funds or the media buys of the other two Republican candidates.

Since then, McCalister has been working the grassroots as he presents his case on why he should be the Republican nominee in the Fall. McCalister’s background includes more than three decades in the National Guard, the Army Reserves and serving on active duty. He eventually rose to become a colonel. He also has been a business owner and an educator, teaching graduate courses on a number of subjects. McCalister told Sunshine State News that his background can help him serve on several of the committees in the U.S. Senate as he has experience in agriculture, international issues, the military, veterans’ affairs, trade and small-business issues.

On the stump, McCalister touches on a number of subjects, ranging from international security to expanding manufacturing in America, and he is unapologetic about his focus on the issues.

“We’re in the race to bring awareness of the critical issues facing Americans,” he said.

McCalister is far behind U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., in fund raising. While Mack had around $1.35 million in the bank on June 30, McCalister had more than $74,000 -- not too far behind former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon who entered the race late and had almost $79,000 at that time.

Despite that disadvantage, McCalister insisted to Sunshine State News that his campaign is “expanding our base” from 2010 and there are other factors besides fundraising in the primary on Aug. 14.

“People really need to have a wake-up call,” McCalister said. “They’re not going to beat Bill Nelson with more money.”

While he did not mention Mack, who has avoided debates with the other Republican Senate hopefuls, McCalister said the GOP needs to turn to a candidate who can hold his own against Nelson.

“We better put up somebody against Bill Nelson who can beat him in the debates,” McCalister said.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

Comments (3)

3:04AM AUG 3RD 2012
An opportunity missed Kevin. Journalism won't be the same after next week, when you depart this website. Let me help you out again. Did you research the book that McCalister wrote in 2010, prior to conducting this "groundbreaking" interview? No? I didn't think so. If you had, the following questions would have been obvious ones to ask McCalister.

1. Why did you write in your book TWO years ago that you were both Pro-Choice and Pro-Life? (page 7 in the same sentence) Do you even know what Pro-Life means?

2. Why did you write in your book TWO years ago that you were against off shore oil drilling (page 8) and now are pretending that you are in favor of it? What has changed, other than the oil spill in the gulf was cleaned up?

3. Why did you write in your book TWO years ago that you strongly supported an AGENDA 21 program, but now are pretending to be against it? Is it true that in recent speeches you have admitted to ignorance of AGENDA 21 three years ago? How does that explain your book of 2010? If your advocacy of AGENDA 21 was a mistake, why are you still selling the book that includes that advocacy?

4. Isn't it difficult keeping your changing positions straight? Wouldn't it be easier to have some principles, so that you could maintain some consistency?

There you have just a few questions that a real reporter might have asked McCalister. Trust me Kevin, there are many more.
Don Browning
4:45PM AUG 1ST 2012
I have seen and listened to Mike speak at several of the grass roots meetings with the Manatee Republican gatherings. He is a fire brand, no nonsense, candidate for Senator that we need in the Senate. He stands on his background which is well rounded including his time in the Army Guard. He puts forth energy and desire to turn this country around to once again be the United States that we used to be. A no nonsense, get it done leader.
11:14AM AUG 1ST 2012
This is a great article, but, when you hear Mike speak it brings a very clear picture that he is the right choice for the Senate.

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