GOP Senate front-runner Mack declines primary debates, accepts invite to debate Nelson in fallby George Bennett | June 13th, 2012
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.