With an iconic name and access to Washington cash, Congressman Connie Mack looked like the great Republican hope when he entered Florida’s U.S. Senate race and posed a serious threat to Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
Six months later, however, Mack has proven to be neither a potent statewide candidate nor a shoo-in to win the Republican nomination against his little-known rivals.
From Washington to Tallahassee to local GOP clubs, GOP professionals and activists are buzzing about Mack’s underwhelming campaign and debut as a statewide candidate. Some want another candidate.
Mack has managed to raise barely more money than former interim Sen. George LeMieux, who’s tainted by his longtime association with former Republican-turned-independent Gov. Charlie Crist. They have slightly more than $1 million in the bank each. Nelson sits on $8.5 million, without an expensive primary looming.
Only twice has Mack appeared for candidate forums with the two other major Republican candidates, and each time conservative activists who questioned and listened to all three voted Mack the weakest of the bunch.
“When he got into the race it’s almost like Connie Mack sucked the air out of the race, but he wasn’t able to sustain that,” said Karin Hoffman, CEO of the Broward County-based DC Works for Us, which organized a recent tea party conference in Orlando attended by the Senate candidates.
“As more time has gone on,” she said, “the reaction to him from people paying attention has become, “Well, not so much.’”