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GOP Senate front-runner Mack declines primary debates, accepts invite to debate Nelson in fall

by George Bennett | June 13th, 2012


With former Gov. Jeb Bush and other big-name Republicans backing Rep. Connie Mack‘s Senate bid and polls showing him with a sizeable lead over his GOP rivals, the Mack campaign says a debate of Republican candidates would only help Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

So Mack has turned down invitations from The Orlando Sentinel and The Tampa Bay Times to participate in debates with GOP rivals George LeMieux, Mike McCalister and David Weldon. And Mack has effectively said no to an invitation from Leadership Florida to participate in a July 24 Republican primary debate in Tallahassee.

“We are prepared and willing to debate Sen. Nelson and feel that at this point any such Republican primary debate exercise would only serve to benefit Sen. Nelson, which no Republican wants to see,” Mack spokesman David James said today.

Leadership Florida today announced a July 24 Republican Senate debate and an Oct. 17 general election Senate debate. The group said former appointed Sen. LeMieux, former Rep. Weldon and businessman McCalister have accepted invitations to the GOP but Mack hasn’t responded.

“We are going to proceed and count on him to do the right thing and say he’ll be there,” said Leadership Florida President Wendy Abberger.

James said the Mack campaign has accepted Leadership Florida’s invitation — to the Oct. 17 general election debate at Nova Southeastern University.

Mack has scored endorsements from Bush and Mitt Romney and today announced the backing of Florida Atdtorney General Pam Bondi.

Two recent polls show Mack with a double-digit lead over his GOP rivals. But those polls also show a large percentage of Republican voters are undecided.

A survey released last week by Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows Mack leading the GOP field with 34 percent to 13 percent for LeMieux, 10 percent for McCalister and 6 percent for Weldon, with 28 percent undecided.

A Quinnipiac University poll last month showed Mack at 40 percent, with McCalister at 8 percent, LeMieux at 7 percent and 41 percent undecided. That poll was taken before Weldon entered the race.

LeMieux is the best-financed of Mack’s rivals and has been the most aggressive in attacking the GOP front-runner. He says Mack, the son of a popular former U.S. Senator, wants voters to think he is his father.

“Mack the Fourth wants a coronation and not an election. However, that is not how our political system works and Floridians deserve a primary,” LeMieux said this week.

Leadership Florida’s GOP debate will be limited to candidates who get at least 6 percent in a Mason-Dixon poll to be conducted sometime between June 15 and July 14. Leadership Florida set the participation bar at 10 percent, but is allowing for a 4 percent margin of error.

3 Responses to “GOP Senate front-runner Mack declines primary debates, accepts invite to debate Nelson in fall”

  1. whasup Says:

    Little Lord Cornelius is afraid to debate.

    And his ilk in the Republican aristocracy tolerate this, because they know he couldn’t debate his way out of a beach bar on clear day with no wind.

    If Republican voters are stupid enough to crown this ignoble, impish simpleton as their candidate, they deserve the shellacking he’ll take on election day against Senator ‘Vanilla Pudding’ Nelson.

    Just what is Con-man Connie afraid of?

    That voters will find out he wears a more expensive empty suit than Bill Nelson?

  2. Rick perry is not in Texas Says:

    I live in Texas unfortunately, but I love Florida and will send a check to Senator Nelson. Just got back from Destin, Florida and had an amazing time. Economy is booking.

  3. Coniie Hack Says:

    The Republican aristocracy and nobles have spoken and bestowed their grace upon the head of a rightful heir to the throne/Senate seat for the State of Florida. He may be daft, crude, rude, and lascivious, but he is good looking and has a fine conservative pedigree. Let his coronation commence.
    Why should Connie have to debate those in his own party when all the backroom deals have been done already?
    After all, it’s not up to the voters.

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