It started as a few shaking heads, some whispers, a sense of disappointment in the Republican U.S. Senate race. Now the feeling that Congressman Connie Mack might not be what Republicans need is leading to a draft-CFO-Jeff-Atwater campaign.
The Shark Tank reports that Sen. Marco Rubio's former finance chair, Nancy McGowan, and Indian River Tea Party Chairman Toby Hill want Atwater to run for the seat.
"I think I have a responsibility to sit back, to these people that I respect greatly, who are serious-minded conservatives of this great state, to take a hard look at it..I think I have to," Atwater told The Shark Tank.
It's no easy task running for a federal seat if you've been a statewide candidate (it's harder to raise non-corporate dollars). But unlike Mack or Republican George LeMieux, Atwater has actually been on a statewide ballot.
In fact, he received more votes than any Republican in 2010 (more than Rubio, Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi or Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam.
Atwater, a former Florida Senate President as well, hails from one of the hotbeds for Republican political finance, Palm Beach County. And unlike Mack, the current frontrunner, Atwater has a more experienced Florida team that's better plugged into the state Republican Party.
Still, Atwater has a major weakness: His 2009 vote in the state Legislature to take Obama stimulus money and raise $2.2 billion worth of taxes and fees. Tax-raising is a killer in a GOP primary, let alone a general election. Also, Atwater's a banker. He's cautious by trade, if not by nature. Chances are, and this is a guess on my part, he doesn't do it.
Regardless, it's a warning shot to Mack and LeMieux.
**Update, Mack's campaign comments on Atwater and the "left-wing media:"
"Connie Mack has sent Bill Nelson and his liberal allies, including those in the press, into panic mode and it won't work. Republicans know that conservative Connie Mack will defeat liberal Bill Nelson and Mitt Romney will defeat Nelson's chief ally Barack Obama, regardless of what the left wing media wants."