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Connie Mack IV and Mary Bono Mack to divorce

Friday, May 24th, 2013 by John Kennedy

U.S. Reps. Connie Mack IV and Mary Bono Mack shared both a marriage and a political defeat last fall, when the Florida congressman lost a bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and the California congresswoman failed to win re-election.

On Friday, the couple announced they are getting divorced after six years of marriage.

In a statement, the pair said, “We are saddened to announce that we have reached the difficult decision to end our marriage. We have nothing but respect and admiration for each other and we intend to remain on the friendliest of terms. We appreciate the love and support of our family and friends.”

Shortly after his defeat last fall, Mack joined Liberty Partners Group, a Washington, D.C. lobbying firm, as a partner and senior policy advisor. Mary Bono Mack also is consulting in Washington.

 

Roll Call: Sen. Bill Nelson wins ‘Luckiest Politician of 2012′ award

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012 by George Bennett

Nelson

Rothenberg Political Report editor Stuart Rothenberg, writing a best-and-worst-of-2012 piece in Roll Call, says Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is the luckiest politician in America.

Nelson got 55.2 percent in November to defeat Republican Rep. Connie Mack, who according to Rothenberg “raised little money and apparently figured that oozing cockiness was the best way to woo reporters and voters.”

It’s the third time in a row Nelson has been blessed with a “mediocre” Republican foe, Rothenberg says, noting that Nelson beat former Rep. Bill McCollum in 2000 and the Katherine Harris train wreck in 2006.

Nelson says election is call to work toward the middle

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Democrat Bill Nelson was elected Tuesday to a third term in the U.S. Senate, easily defeating Republican U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV and remaining Florida’s only statewide elected Democratic officeholder.

The Nelson-Mack contest was overshadowed by the presidential race in Florida, butstill included $39.3 million in spending on both sides. Nelson said his victory showed Floridians wanted a centrist willing to work across the aisle in starkly divided Washington.

“We have a lot to do now,” Nelson told several hundred supporters gathered at a downtown Orlando hotel. “We have to bring this country together.”

Nelson also reached out to his opponent, the namesake son of the two-term Republican senator he succeeded in 2001.

“Connie Mack is my opponent, not my enemy,” Nelson said.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith said Nelson’s win was testament to his style over a 40-year career in office, beginning with his election to the state House in 1972.

“Sen. Nelson has stood up for the values that make our state great,” Smith said.

Nelson projected as winner of U.S. Senate race

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012 by John Kennedy

NBC-News is projecting that Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has won a third term, easily defeating Republican Connie Mack IV.

Early returns showed Nelson holding a comfortable, 15 percentage point lead over Mack, a four-term congressmann from Fort Myers.

At a downtown Orlando hotel, where Nelson’s victory party is being held, the candidate has not made an appearance. But with each passing TV report, broadcast on jumbotrons in a hotel ballroom, the crowd roared.

Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith sent out an email congratulating Nelson less than 15 minutes after the last polls closed in the Panhandle.

“On behalf of Florida Democrats, I wish Senator Bill Nelson congratulations on his reelection,” Smith said.  “Sen. Nelson has and will continue to serve our state and country with the highest level of distinction. Throughout this campaign and his entire career in public service, Sen. Nelson has stood up for the values that make our state great. He is a true champion for middle class families and a passionate advocate for our state. He has delivered for the people of Florida, and tonight they have
delivered him a decisive victory.”

 

Nelson joins chorus of Democrats urging Scott extend voting hours

Saturday, November 3rd, 2012 by John Kennedy

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson added his voice Saturday to a chorus of Democrats urging Republican Gov. Rick Scott to extend early voting hours, scheduled to end later in the day.

Long lines at polling places were still being reported around the state — with waits topping an hour common. Scott has already dismissed calls from Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith and others to push the early voting deadline past 7 p.m. Saturday.

“You should be doing everything in your power to make sure everybody has the chance to vote, and that their vote is counted,” Nelson said in a letter Saturday to Scott. “Instead, Gov. Scott, you are allowing people to be turned away and jeopardizing the credibility of Florida’s election.”

Surveys show the presidential race in Florida is tight, with Republican Mitt Romney likely holding a narrow lead. Republican leaders say Nelson’s opponent, Fort Myers U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, could be lifted to victory by a strong GOP turnout, overcoming polls that show him trailing by an average 6.7 percentage points heading into the campaign’s final weekend.

 

Quinnipiac poll: Obama 48, Romney 47 in Florida

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012 by George Bennett

A new Quinnipiac University poll shows Florida too close to call, with President Obama leading Mitt Romney by a 48-to-47 percent margin that is within the survey’s 3 percent margin of error.

The results of the Oct. 23-28 poll compare to a 9-point Obama lead in late September.

Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson leads Republican challenger Connie Mack by a 52-t0-39 percent margin in the poll.

Quinnipiac released the poll as part of a swing-state package that also shows Obama with a 50-to-45 percent lead in Ohio and a 49-to-47 percent lead in Virginia.

Post-Sandy, Nelson sends out a pitch for Red Cross

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 by John Kennedy

With the Northeast digging out from Hurricane Sandy, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson paused Tuesday to send out a fund-raising email for the American Red Cross.

“One days like today, it’s crucial we put politics aside and come together as Americans,” Nelson said in a message to supporters with a link to the Red Cross site.

Nelson as been portraying himself as a centrist, tired of the Washington gridlock, in his re-election fight with Republican Connie Mack.

He’s already campaigned in usually reliable Republican areas like the Florida Panhandle. And on Halloween, Nelson plans to continue working GOP turf — with a lunchtime appearance planned at Miami’s Versailles Restaurant, a must-stop on the Florida political itinerary for Republicans, but rarely a Democratic detour.

Mack is planning three stops Wednesday with Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney, who will be campaigning in Florida with U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mack campaign predicts Mack win — precisely

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Although most public polls show Republican Connie Mack trailing in Florida’s U.S. Senate race, the underdog’s campaign manager made a bold and very precise prediction Tuesday:

Mack will win. By 1.4 percent.

“Virtually every public poll shows that the race between Connie Mack and Bill Nelson has remained close and is now too close to call,” said the Mack campaign’s Jeff Cohen. “Our own campaign’s internal data shows very similar and even stronger trends.”

Cohen said those in the campaign “are absolutely confident that Connie Mack will win by 1.4 percent and will be Florida’s next U.S. senator.”

Mack to cast vote in hometown

Tuesday, October 30th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Republican Connie Mack will vote Tuesday in his Fort Myers hometown before moving on to meet supporters in Polk County at a Republican headquarters as Florida’s U.S. Senate race enters its final week.

Mack spent Saturday campaigning across the state with Mitt Romney and will do a similar tour again Wednesday when the Republican presidential candidate returns and is joined by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush.

Mack, a four-term congressman, is looking to join Rubio in the Senate – a move that would mark the first time Florida has had two Republican senators since 1875. But another number stands in Mack’s way right now — and that’s the average 6 percent in polls that he is trailing two-term incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson as the race hits the homestretch.

Mack has lashed his candidacy to that of Romney, hoping that the presidential contender’s improving fortunes in Florida will lift the entire ticket. Many analysts, however, have the Florida Senate race listed as ranging from ‘leaning’ to ‘safe’ Democratic.

 

 

Nelson plays up centrist stance and roots in North Florida stops

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Democrat  Bill Nelson visited family gravesites Tuesday and reminisced about his bonds to rural North Florida in campaign stops steeped in the past but designed to assure his future in Washington.

The two-term U.S. senator, who polls show holds a comfortable lead over Republican Connie Mack IV, is appealing to conservative voters across a stretch of Florida his rival must win big.

Nelson, whose ancestors farmed here in Chipley beginning in 1829, is looking for help from voters who usually lean Republican – a crossover move now increasingly important as GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney gains strength in Florida.

“I have always gotten a healthy slice of Republicans that look at me as ‘me,’’ Nelson said. “Not as a partisan label. Same thing with independents…in bipartisan consensus building, I’ve been able to pass some things.”

Nelson stood in a Baptist church cemetery where three generations of his family are buried. While he spoke before a few family members, friends and reporters, roosters crowed in the distance on an otherwise quiet, sunlit autumn morning.

Two weeks from Election Day, the Democrat said he is confident President Obama will regain his lead in Florida.

But in a campaign swing that began Monday in Pensacola and continued across country roadsides dotted with Romney signs, Nelson didn’t mention Obama’s name, instead playing up his own strength as a centrist, consensus-builder.

Full story here:  http://bit.ly/Txtqop

 

Nelson and Mack trade heat in lone Senate debate

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican rival Connie Mack IV blistered each other over a wide range of policy and character issues Wednesday night in their lone debate of the Florida U.S. Senate race.

In the hourlong exchange, the two contenders dueled over a host of issues that have emerged as flashpoints in the race. It also got personal plenty of times.

“My opponent has a pattern of not telling the truth,” Nelson, a two-term incumbent, said after being steadily challenged by Mack through most of the exchange.

Mack, who has been trailing in most polls, openly tied his candidacy to GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney by urging voters to send both to Washington.

“Mitt Romney needs someone who he can count on,” Mack told viewers. “We need another Republican senator from the state of Florida. I’m asking you to stand with Mitt Romney.”

The debate, from Nova Southeastern University, was televised live across most Florida media markets. Sponsored by the Florida Press Association and Leadership Florida, it is the only debate the two candidates would agree to take part in.

A tale of two contenders: Nelson seeks Gatorade, Mack wants ‘to win’

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012 by John Kennedy

The contrast between Democrat Bill Nelson and Republican Connie Mack started early Wednesday evening as the pair arrived at Davie’s Nova Southeastern University for the lone debate of the U.S. Senate race.

Nelson, the two-term incumbent, did a few television interviews before disappearing inside the cavernous theater where the hourlong contest, to be televised statewide, is slated to begin at 7 p.m.  Nelson checked camera angles and asked a couple of questions about the order of tonight’s questioning by a panel of journalists.

He also asked for a bottle of Gatorade on his way into the auditorium.

“Gatorade is to me what spinach is to Popeye,” Nelson assured.

Mack arrived about 20 minutes later — aboard a bus wrapped with his name and campaign themes. He also started swinging — almost as soon as he hit the ground.

“He’s running a stealth campaign,” Mack said, criticizing his opponent for declining to take part in more than one debate.

When asked by reporters what his strategy is going into the hourlong debate, Mack was ready with an answer.

“To win,” Mack said.

Mack’s Mom: ‘We mothers understand’

Monday, October 15th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Republican U.S. Senate contender Connie Mack IV, dubbed by an earlier GOP opponent as the ‘Charlie Sheen of Florida’ for his youthful wild side, Monday began airing a TV spot featuring his mother promoting him while acknowledging he was “a bit of a handful.”

Mack was blistered by one-time primary rival George LeMieux for altercations which occured when he was in his 20s. They included a nightclub arrest in Jacksonville a few months after his father, Connie Mack III, was elected to the U.S. Senate, a fight a few years later with then-Atlanta Brave Ron Gant, and a couple earlier road rage episodes.

In the latest TV ad, Priscilla Mack said, “My Connie was a good kid, a bit of a handful. We mothers understand.”

The camera then turns to Connies pere et fil looking on with a sort of ‘boys will be boys’ expression.

The candidate’s campaign manager, Jeff Cohen, said the calculus behind the spot will pay off.

“In a sea of unbelievable negative TV ads, we are confident that this ad will truly stand out and reach voters in a very compelling way,” Cohen said.

Here’s the spot:  http://bit.ly/WesuFX

Nelson’s lead dwindling in U.S. Senate race? Maybe

Monday, October 15th, 2012 by John Kennedy

With the lone debate upcoming between Florida’s U.S. Senate contenders, Republican Connie Mack was crowing Monday about a new Rasmussen Reports survey that shows Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson’s lead down to one-percent.

But even those running the robo-poll aren’t sure what to make of the new numbers — a dramatic downturn for Nelson from last week’s Rasmussen survey that showed the Democrat on top by 11 percentage points.

“It is highly unlikely that public opinion shifted 10 points within a week,” the polling firm acknowledged. “That suggests either last week’s results or this week’s may be an outlier. Polling theory suggests that one out of every 20 polls will produce results outside the margin of error.”

The Rasmussen poll of 750 Florida voters was conducted Oct. 11. It has a margin-of-error of plus-or-minus 4 percent. Because it uses automated dialing to reach respondents, Rasmussen is prohibited from contacting cell-phone users, now believed to represent about one-third of voters and a population that skews Democratic.

But it may also make sense that Mack is gaining on Nelson as Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney has overtaken President Obama within the Sunshine State.

“If Mitt Romney wins, I win. If I win, Mitt Romney wins,” Mack has said. “So we are certainly going to be tied together.

Mack and Nelson are scheduled to face-off Wednesday night on live, statewide television for their only debate of the race from Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

Mitt-mentum: Dem pollster says Romney gains 5 points in Florida since debate

Monday, October 15th, 2012 by George Bennett

A new Florida poll by the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling shows Mitt Romney edging President Obama in Florida by a 49-to-48 percent margin — a net gain of five points for the Republican nominee since a PPP poll in late September showed Obama with a 50-to-46 percent edge.

The poll shows independent voters breaking toward Romney since the end of September. Romney leads 51-to-43 percent among independents in PPP’s survey of 791 likely voters conducted Friday through Sunday. The poll has a 3.4 percent margin of error. Obama held a 51-to-40 lead among independents a few weeks ago, according to PPP.

“Mitt Romney has the momentum after his strong debate performance last week, but Barack Obama’s still very much in it,” says PPP President Dean Debnam.

The poll found Florida voters thought Vice President Joe Biden won last week’s debate against Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan by a 44-to-40 percent margin. But voters have an overall negative opinion of Biden (45 percent favorable, 50 percent unfavorable) and an overall positive view of Ryan (50 percent positive, 44 percent negative).

PPP’s survey says Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson leads Republican Connie Mack by a 45-to-37 percent margin. Nelson and Mack hold a televised debate Wednesday night from Nova Southeastern University in Davie.

Nelson goes on Mack attack, again

Thursday, October 11th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is up with a new TV spot accusing Republican opponent Connie Mack IV of being a shill for special interests.

Mack, a four-term member of Congress, makes no bones about getting plenty of support from third-party spending groups. But Nelson blasts him for filing legislation that would help Chevron oil and also a hedge fund operator who is a top donor to his campaign.

The spot concludes that Mack is “deep in debt to the special interests.”

Here’s the ad:  http://tinyurl.com/94j2d5y

 

 

 

Poll: Obama, Romney a toss-up for Florida; Nelson builds lead

Thursday, October 11th, 2012 by John Kennedy

A new poll showing President Obama and Republican Mitt Romney in a too-close-to-call fight for Florida, also has Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson building on his lead over Republican Connie Mack.

The NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Marist Poll released Thursday has Obama ahead in the nation’s biggest battleground state, 48-47 percent among likely voters and those leaning toward a candidate. Obama’s faltering performance in the first presidential debate didn’t seem to matter much to Floridians, pollsters found.

“Most Florida voters were locked into their choice prior to the debate, and only 6% of likely voters made up their mind post-debate,” says Dr. Lee M. Miringoff, director of The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion. “Overall, Romney’s supporters are slightly more enthusiastic about their candidate than are Obama’s backers.”

In Florida’s U.S. Senate race, Mack has acknowledged that his fortunes are closely tied to how Romney does in the state. But the latest findings show Nelson ahead 52-39 percent, with only nine percent of Floridians undecided.

A week earlier, the Marist survey showed Nelson with an 11 percent lead and seven percent undecided.

The latest survey polled 1,410 Floridians from Oct. 7-9. It has a 3.1 percent margin-of-error.

Meanwhile, Nelson, who has been accused by Mack of ducking debates and trying to run out the clock on the Senate contest, is kicking off his homestretch tour of Florida on Friday in the Orlando area.

 The campaign said Nelson will appear with entertainer Jimmy Buffett that day, part of 19 planned stops across the state leading to Election Day.

Nelson, Mack both tout $2 million-plus fundraising marks heading to homestretch

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 by John Kennedy

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.

 

Mack touts best fund-raising quarter

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Already the heavy favorite of third-party spending groups, Republican Connie Mack said Wednesday that his campaign to unseat Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson has completed its best fund-raising quarter, pulling in $2.7 million.

“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.”

Mack has been steadily pumping up his personal campaign cash, but headed into this fall with only $1.4 million in the bank – compared with $8.8 million for Nelson. The Democrat hasn’t yet reported his fundraising for the July 1-Sept. 30 quarter.

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.

Mack gets another PAC in his corner

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 by John Kennedy

Republican U.S. Senate contender Connie Mack, already the beneficiary of heavy third-party spending in his bid to unseat Democrat Bill Nelson, got another organization in his corner Tuesday.

RAND PAC, a leadership fund run by Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, is airing a TV spot attacking Nelson for his support of sending foreign aid to Libya, Egypt and Pakistan. Paul said he is siding with Mack for his refusal to support anti-American regimes.

 “Our country is $16 trillion in debt and faces yet another trillion dollar deficit,” Paul said. “It makes no sense to send our hared-earned taxpayer dollars overseas, especially to countries with hostile governments that hate us.

 Mack also was endorsed Tuesday by the Florida Medical Association, an opponent of the federal health care overhaul which singled out Nelson for his support of the measure.

Here’s the Paul spot: http://tiny.cc/jbcxlw

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