Nelson, Mack both tout $2 million-plus fundraising marks heading to homestretchby John Kennedy | October 10th, 2012
Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican rival Connie Mack IV both topped the $2 million mark in fund-raising in the last full quarter before the Nov. 6 election, with both contenders saying Wednesday that they are in good shape for the campaign’s homestretch.
Mack said he raised $2.7 million while Nelson collected $2.3 million from July 1-Sept. 30. Mack has been a big beneficiary of third-party spending and said he and committees supporting him will spend as much as $30 million on the race.
Nelson said Wednesday that he has $6.5 million in the bank, more than double Mack’s cash-on-hand.
“When all the fundraising and polling are done, the voters of Florida will make a choice,” said Ryan Brown, a Nelson campaign spokesman. “And in this election they have a clear choice: a common-sense senator who has a record of honesty and integrity versus a congressman beholding to special interests.”
Nelson has been helped by Democratic-allied spending groups, although at a level far less than Mack.
Still close to half of the TV spots aired in the race last month between Mack and Nelson were paid for by independent political committees, an analysis last week by the Wesleyan Media Project shows.
Mack has drawn the most outside help, with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Freedom PAC and the Karl Rove-founded American Crossroads committee airing millions of dollars of ads backing him. Mack, a four-term congressman from Fort Myers, is running his first statewide race — while Nelson is a former legislator, U.S. House member, Cabinet officer and candidate for governor.
Mack’s third-quarter fund-raising, though, was his best of the campaign.
“We could not be in a better position for the final stretch of this race,” said Jeff Cohen, Mack’s campaign manager.
“Our outstanding fundraising results reflect the fact that this race is far closer than the media and their public polls indicate,” he added. “Our own internal polling continues to show this race is a dead heat, and Floridians are now just weeks away from retiring Bill Nelson and his lockstep liberal agenda.”
Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s wife, Ann, is scheduled to appear Thursday at a Mack fund-raiser in Sarasota.
Polls show Mack trailing Nelson by an average 5.6 percent. But there’s been no survey of Florida voters since Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney’s recent surge in the polls — a move that may also be helping the chances of many GOP contenders, including Mack.
Romney’s once tattered coattails don’t look so bad at the moment.
“If Mitt Romney wins, I win. If I win, Mitt Romney wins,” Mack has said. “So we are certainly going to be tied together.”
While Romney’s recent debate performance helped boost his prospects against President Obama, Mack has his own chance to shine under the TV lights. Mack and Nelson are scheduled to meet next Wednesday for their only statewide television debate at Davie’s Nova Southeastern University.
In its report last week, Wesleyan found that from Sept. 9-30, $4.5 million was spent on TV spots in the Mack-Nelson race. Outside groups financed 48 percent of the ads, the fourth-highest percentage in 15 Senate races reviewed nationwide by the school.
Mack’s biggest backers include organizations founded by Rove, President George W. Bush’s former strategist; Freedom PAC, a committee financed heavily by Las Vegas casino mogul Sheldon Adelson; and the Chamber.
Nelson has been helped by more modest ad buys from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic-allied American Bridge PAC, Majority PAC, and Saving Florida’s Future PAC.
Also in Mack’s corner is Americans For Prosperity, the grassroots organization founded by the billionaire Koch brothers. AFP, which claims 109,000 activists in Florida, aired $1 million in TV advertising this summer for Mack.
The brothers, who run Koch Industries, an oil services company, back a host of conservative causes. AFP has run TV ads against President Obama and are providing phone banks and get-out-the-vote efforts this fall nationwide.