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Rep. Connie Mack (R)
Rep. Connie Mack (R)

This has to be the most f*cked-up way to launch a campaign I've ever seen:

After passing on a bid earlier this year, GOP Rep. Connie Mack has decided to enter the U.S. Senate race in Florida, POLITICO has learned.

"Connie Mack is entering the Senate race. He is making calls and assembling a team. He will have more to announce in weeks to come. Not only will he be the nominee of the Republican Party, but will defeat the out-of-step, liberal Senator Bill Nelson," Mack adviser David James told POLITICO on Wednesday night.

When asked why the congressman changed his mind, James would only say that he wanted someone to emerge who could defeat Nelson and that "did not happen." He said Mack would address his change of heart more specifically in the coming weeks.

Man. Ridic. Back in March, you'll recall, Mack was all set to enter the race—an advisor even told Politico's Dave Catanese that "there was nothing wrong with saying it's expected" that Mack would make an announcement on Friday the 25th. Instead, everything went absolutely haywire that day, and Mack wound up telling the world he would not run. (And though Catanese openly acknowledged he got burned, he refused to out his lying "source.")

Mack's shocking reversal left the GOP field without its presumptive front-runner. The one man who had sufficient establishment pedigree and nominally acceptable conservative bona fides, state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, turned out to be an astonishing bumbler plagued by gaffes, ethical lapses, and weak fundraising. He wound up bailing in mid-July, which left Republicans desperately hoping for someone better to come along and take on Nelson.

But it wasn't going to be Mack. In August, when asked again, Mack said no. Late in September, the only other remaining savior, the wealthy but ethically questionable Rep. Vern Buchanan, finally declined as well. The GOP was going to have to live with a very weak field indeed.

Then, the next day, Connie Mack started getting frisky again:

"I don't have any intention to run for the Senate," he said, but added, "I'm looking at all the candidates just like everyone else and looking for one to distinguish himself … to stand out. I would have thought by now that one would."

Asked whether he'd reconsider if that doesn't change, he responded, "My intentions right now are to remain where I am." But when a questioner suggested he wasn't ruling out the idea, he responded, "I'll leave that up to your interpretation."

Quite the about-face for the guy who, when he declined to run in March, had said:

"I've got two small children and it's hard enough to get to spend a lot of good quality time now. I have a wife. They are all very important to me and at the end of the day family has to be number one."

And now the transformation is complete. Mack has somehow managed to go from "expected to run" to "not running" to "still not running" to "no intention to run" to "running." It's enough to make you question his level of fire in the belly, and I think it's going to be difficult for him to articulate why exactly he feels motivated to run now, in late October, after spurning the chance to do so half a year ago.

And while I'm sure the Florida GOP is excited to have a more prominent candidate in the race, and while Mack surely has natural advantages (his father, Connie Mack III, was a two-term senator), he also has been an occasional apostate and may not be loved by the base. As I wrote back in February with regard to a lengthy and interesting profile of Mack in the St. Petersburg Times:

Mack is a hardcore conservative, but remember—it's not just about how you vote, it's about how you belong. And Mack has taken a few stances that put his tribal membership into some doubt, such as "supporting stem cell research, defending WikiLeaks and denouncing Arizona's tough immigration law as Gestapo-like."

A March PPP poll (PDF) suggested he would be the front-runner in the GOP primary, but not by very big margins. While I'd still consider him the favorite for the nomination, I don't know that it will be a smooth ride. And even if he does get the nod, and even if he does raise a ton of money, it will probably be challenging for him to break through on the airwaves when Florida voters are inundated with ten times as many Obama and Romney ads as they are ads for Nelson and Mack.

Don't get me wrong: This is still a good get for Republicans. It's just not as good as it would have been back in March, and I'd still call Nelson the favorite to win the general election. But who knows? Mack could still change his mind... again.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 08:58 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos Elections.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Decided he needs to spend less time with family. (17+ / 0-)

    Corporations are people, my friend Yeah, well, so's Soylent Green, so I don't find that very comforting.

    by Crashing Vor on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:03:21 AM PDT

    •  My thoughts exactly (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor

      nothing like a summer off with two small children to send a man running from home...I guess that's what they mean by family values.

      The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy: that is the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. - John Kenneth Galbraith

      by beefydaddy18 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 11:42:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, snap! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Crashing Vor

      My concern, by the way, isn't the lack of fire in Mack's belly, but possible lack of neurons firing in his brain.

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinksy OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 02:34:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What's that smell ? (4+ / 0-)

    Oh yeah . . .

    desperation . . .

    I refuse to believe that Corporations are People until Texas executes one.

    by thenekkidtruth on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:03:56 AM PDT

    •  Rep. Mack thanks you for not calling it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      thenekkidtruth

      "flop sweat."

      Democrats must
      Earn the trust
      Of the 99% --
      That's our intent!

      "I love this goddamn country, and we're going to take it back." -- Saul Alinksy OCcupy!

      by Seneca Doane on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 02:35:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Actually (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY

      Most people won't remember this, but Mack III played footsie with the race when he first ran. He was going to run, then he backed off and then was talked into it. He thought he was going to have to run against Lawton Chiles and didn't think he had much chance, but then Chiles dropped out and Mack III eventually won (though it was a twisted road to victory.) So Mack IV is just doing what his father did.

      I am Zornorph; the one who comes by night to the neighbor's yard.

      by Zornorph on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:53:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  with the current crop of primary opponents (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Peace JD, KingofSpades, ArkDem14, Matt Z

    it's hard NOT to run.  Honestly, I think Charlie Crist could finish in at least 2nd or third considering how crazy divided and weak the field is at the moment.

    Help, help, I'm in Connecticut!- Foamy the Squirrel.

    by DougTuttle on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:04:46 AM PDT

  •  David… (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY

    I love your assumption that Flipflop McRomneycare will win the GOP nod. I don't believe it.

    Teh stoopidTM, it hurts. Buy smart, union-printed, USA-made, signs, stickers, swag for everyone: DemSign.com. Get your We are the 99% Yard Sign.

    by DemSign on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:07:07 AM PDT

  •  I Don't See That a Late Start Is Any Problem At (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, Zornorph

    all for a conservative in today's media and finance environment.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:08:21 AM PDT

  •  when all your opponents (5+ / 0-)

    are hammer bros, goombas and Croco, Mack looks pretty good, even though better villains were available.

    Help, help, I'm in Connecticut!- Foamy the Squirrel.

    by DougTuttle on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:08:31 AM PDT

  •  How many damn Connie Macks are there down there?? (6+ / 0-)

    Didn't they used to have one in the Senate or something? Why can't we get a Christy Mathewson or a Honus Wagner to run for something instead?

    So many stupid people in the world, and me with only two fists.

    by phenry on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:10:18 AM PDT

  •  no auto-tip jar? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    beefydaddy18

    I changed by not changing at all, small town predicts my fate, perhaps that's what no one wants to see. -6.38, -4.15

    by James Allen on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:14:43 AM PDT

  •  We don't want him in the senate (0+ / 0-)

    but maybe his family does.

    Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

    by plf515 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:21:20 AM PDT

  •  We've been looking for that too, Connie (0+ / 0-)
    "I'm looking at all the candidates just like everyone else and looking for one to distinguish himself

    Tough to find one of THOSE in the republican ranks....isn't it?

    - If you don't like gay marriage, blame straight people. They're the ones who keep having gay babies.

    by r2did2 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:21:46 AM PDT

  •  Gotta ask... (0+ / 0-)

    Does this mean that Chris Christie will reconsider? ;-)

    "We *can* go back to the Dark Ages! The crust of learning and good manners and tolerance is so thin!" -- Sinclair Lewis

    by Nespolo on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:23:02 AM PDT

  •  I've never been so happy to lose a Congressman. (4+ / 0-)

    It'll be interesting to see what Neanderthal they unearth to replace Connie Mack in my district, and who might have a chance to win against that replacement.

    It's also why Fair Districts Florida needs to hold up. Before, we suffered under a permanent registration disadvantage because Golden Gate City got cut right out of our district and assigned to a Congressman all the way across Alligator Alley (the Hispanic dude with the car chases, name escapes me). If we get a reasonable boundary, we might be able to flip the House seat.

    Finally, Connie Mack 4 is no maverick. He's been an absentee Rep. for the most part, since his wife is a Congressperson in California. I'm not enamored with Bill Nelson, but like most progressives here, I'd take him in a heartbeat over any Florida Republican.

  •  Brings to mind the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Rich in PA, ArkDem14, Matt Z, Eric Nelson

    quote made famous by Molly Ivins, by a member of the Texas legislature

    I'd like all our disabled visitors to rise and extinguish themselves

    I think I read this one in her first book, but am not sure

    Founder Math and Statistics Geeks . Statistics for progressives

    by plf515 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:28:05 AM PDT

  •  FL redistricting status? (0+ / 0-)

    Look at it this way: if he's challenged in a primary as "part of the problem" and has his lines changed more than a few tweaks, wouldn't it be better to run a Senate campaign with the full state organization behind you?

  •  I'm not so sure about one thing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY
    Don't get me wrong: This is still a good get for Republicans. It's just not as good as it would have been back in March, and I'd still call Nelson the favorite to win the general election.

    I think the less time a Republican candidate is out there getting trashed by (a) the Teabagger Right and (b) the occasional media outlet interested in actual facts, the better for that candidate.  I think Mack is better off with this apparent circus than if he had declared in March and been out there the whole time.

    But nobody's buying flowers from the flower lady.

    by Rich in PA on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:32:14 AM PDT

  •  I agree Ben Nelson is out of step, but liberal-no. (0+ / 0-)
  •  He supported stem cell research? (4+ / 0-)
    And Mack has taken a few stances that put his tribal membership into some doubt, such as "supporting stem cell research,

    Those old Republicans in Florida who could benefit from stem cell research aren't going to like that!

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.- Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by shoeless on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 09:38:56 AM PDT

  •  The Florida political environment (6+ / 0-)

    is toxic.  The right wing of the Republican party and the Teabaggers in Florida have become such an existential threat to healthy political debate and honest and successful governing that I am sick of the entire mess.

    As a lifelong Liberal/Progressive, I am very pleased with my Tampa Congressperson, Kathy Castor who is a pro-choice, pro-gay, pro-labor Representative voting consistently with Progressives.  I am even OK with Senator Bill Nelson who is a moderate Democrat - sometimes leaning Blue Dog - but sometimes voting in line with my progressive ideals.

    Connie Mack has been a strange character in Florida politics.  He has been around a long time - sort of a Mitt Romney personality but more conservative in line with pandering to the Florida right wing conservative voters.

    I would leave this godforsaken state if it were possible.  As it is, I am older, getting good medical care through the VA and living a simple, low-key life mostly off the grid, I am stuck here, in a way.

  •  Bill Nelson iis history (0+ / 0-)

    Just My opinion of coarse

  •  Lets not understate it... (0+ / 0-)

    "Don't get me wrong: This is still a good get for Republicans."

    This is a great get for Republicans.  It cancels out the Elizabeth Warren gain in Mass.  I'm pretty confident that the GOP candidate, whoever he is, if he runs even just a competent campaign, is going to win Florida.  That push, expecially because nobody really loves Nelson, will mean that Mack will win.  

    Think about it, Nelson is the Dem Scott Brown, if slightly less party-loyal.  A moderate guy from the wrong party in a state that usually elects the other party to state and national offices.  As soon as he runs against a credible candidate, the structural bias of the state will make it almost impossibe to win.  Matched against a good candidate, like Warren in Mass (and we all thought Mack was that in March, admit it) Nelson is doomed.

    •  Have to Disagree (7+ / 0-)

      Under the best of circumstances, Scott Brown could not achieve what Nelson has over the years.  Granted Katherine Harris' name was dirt in 2006, Nelson nabbed 60% of the vote.  Not to mention Nelson won his seat in a year that Florida went red (sorta, I mean in 2000 who the hell knows).

      Honestly the biggest thing that stands between Nelson and re-election is the voter suppression stuff.  Without that, I think he could top even somebody with as long a history as Mack.  It won't be hard to paint him as an out-of-stater being married to Sonny Bono's widow.  Not to mention, he's a member of Congress, too and everybody hates Congress.  They're not going to rush to somebody who is part of the same dysfunctional institution as the person he seeks replace.  Not to mention the House this year has given the Senate a run for its money in the area of dysfunction.

      "How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can't stand Americans"-Annette Benning as Sydney Ellen Wade in the American President

      by Mski011 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 10:36:48 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If Nelson runs against a credible candidate (5+ / 0-)

        Like he didn't run against Bill McCollum, a 10 term Orlando-area Representative in 2000. And as if he didn't run against a former Secretary of State and sitting Congresswoman (no matter how controversial), in 2006. Why even bothering with such a troll and who's talking out of his ass? I mean, he's equating Florida with fucking Massachusetts in terms of it's preference for Federal elections. That's enough to not take a thing he says seriously.

        "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

        by ArkDem14 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 10:59:21 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  True (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichaelNY, ArkDem14

          Very true, in fact.  At the end of the day Massachusetts and Florida are, um, DRASTICALLY different states.

          "How do you have patience for people who claim they love America, but clearly can't stand Americans"-Annette Benning as Sydney Ellen Wade in the American President

          by Mski011 on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 11:28:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Connie Mack's wife is a non-issue (0+ / 0-)

        I really don't like that this is being repeatedly brought up on this site, and we should stop talking about it. No-one will appreciate a campaign of personal attacks based on who someone is married to, as long as that person isn't involved with anything that's either criminal or just about universally considered highly personally immoral.

        That said, the idea that Florida is as Republican as Massachusetts is Democratic or that an institution like Bill Nelson is comparable to freshman Senator Scott Brown is completely absurd! None of the Republican candidates for President have more than the slightest chance of beating President Obama (and if they did, it would be an extreme landslide as a result of a depression or some other tremendous calamity), whereas President Obama probably has about a 50/50 chance of winning Florida.

        Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

        by MichaelNY on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:29:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  nelson's in Congress too... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY

        18, D, new CA-18 (home) new CA-13 (college). Economic liberal, social libertarian, fiscal conservative. Put your age and CD here :) -.5.38, -3.23

        by jncca on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:02:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  How will this impact Mary Bono? (0+ / 0-)

    Clearly they have maintained distinct Congressional careers despite representing 2 states (in relatively safe seats), but this isn't a great thing for her.

    She already faces a difficult job getting re-elected under the new district lines - the fact that her hubby will be out hustling to court the tea bagging crowd in a right wing Florida primary will be bad optics for her efforts to pretend to be moderate and appeal to a very different electorate in Palm Springs.

    And clearly it means that Cornelius won't have the asset of a smart pretty wife doing campaign events for him in Florida - since she'll be campaigning for herself.

    Indeed, for both of them it potentially highlights the "out of touch, gone Washington" image, since they claim separate legal residences in 2 states and have their family home in the DC area.

    Not that it will be the deal-breaker for either of them, but it does add a little spin for both of their campaign efforts.

    If they both lose, they'll have plenty of time to spend with their family, and can stop the pretense of maintaining separate homes in 3 places.

    My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world - Jack Layton

    by terjeanderson on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 10:59:48 AM PDT

    •  I'm not sure it will be an issue. (0+ / 0-)

      I can't see the Nelson campaign running with it. It'll be known, because at some point it will come up and people will talk about it, but it's not as if it's some sort of unforgivable sin. (At least to me, that is; people in Florida might feel differently.) And if they go after him over this, they will drag her into it. Then, they run the risk of looking like hey are going after his wife, which is bound to back fire.

      •  I don't think Nelson should go after him on this (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY

        And neither should the Dems. Neither should they go after her. Blatant attacks on a family member (even when they are a member of Congress) are usually counter-productive and off the mark.

        But Mack running for Senate and the CA redistricting raises the stakes a little above the normal low key re-election campaigns both of them normally can run. It will inevitably end up being part of the news coverage and atmospherics of the campaign. As you note, people will talk about it.

        My sense is that, for many reasons (sexism not being the least of them) it hurts Mary Bono-Mack more than it hurts Connie Mack... but I don't think it will be a huge factor in either race, just an intriguing tidbit worth musing about potential impact.

        My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world - Jack Layton

        by terjeanderson on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:19:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't see how it will impact Bono's reelection (0+ / 0-)

      chances, nor do I think it should.

      Being married to a co-worker is hardly a criminal offense in the United States.

      Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

      by MichaelNY on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 12:31:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Being in Congress is more than coworker (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY

        Like it or not, candidates are impacted by their spouses - often they are real assets (Michelle Obama, Laura Bush), but sometimes they are more problematic (Todd Palin's membership in the Alaska Independence Party comes to mind, or Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin's spouse being a lobbyist former member of Congress). It plays out when a candidate's spouse is well-known, is rich, is politically involved, etc.

        Mary Bono takes heat back in California for not being in the district often enough, and for voting lock step in line with Republicans instead of the more moderate views of her district. Her husband running for US Senate from another state doesn't help her walk that tightrope.

        Voters like to be convinced that their representative is fully committed to the district they represent. That is why so many members of Congress get in trouble when it is perceived that they have lost touch and "gone Washington." Whether it is fair or not, voters will be left to wonder how committed Bono is to her district if her husband is a Senate candidate across the country. Commuting from Washington to Palm Springs is hard enough - if she even occasionally throws in time in Florida to campaign for Connie Mack, it will get people talking back home.

        Plenty of couples have complex professional careers that they balance, including across geographic barriers. But political couples simultaneously representing different states in Congress is nearly without precedent... so it is going to receive a degree of scrutiny from voters.

        Mary Bono's hold on her newly redistricted seat is extremely tenuous at the moment. Anything that impacts public perceptions about her moderation, her independence, or her long term commitment to representing the district will have to be factoring into her re-election calculus.

        This isn't the sort of thing that their opponents should attempt to campaign on (that would surely backfire, in addition to being wrong), but it is part of the reality and the environment that will impact both of their races. I guarantee you that both the Mack and the Bono campaign teams will strategize extensively about how to prevent it from becoming a problem - because they know that it will impact the way some voters feel about the candidate. They would be foolish not to plan for it, and observers of the race would be foolish not to pay attention to it.

        My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world - Jack Layton

        by terjeanderson on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:11:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  i, for one, would like to be rid of her (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terjeanderson, MichaelNY

      i've been in her district (CA-45) for 11 years.  no show Bono has done little for the district to account for the time she has represented it.

      I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

      by blue drop on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:52:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Oh well (0+ / 0-)

    Nelson's shit vote on the trade agreements means I'm not voting for him.  Have to see who else is on the ballot, I suppose.

    No nation can be great if it allows its elites to loot with impunity and prosecutes its whistleblowers. Geithner is destroying the things that made America great. -- Bill Black, white-collar criminologist & a former senior financial regulator

    by jboxman on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 11:08:29 AM PDT

    •  Connie Mack thanks you for the support (6+ / 0-)

      How did Mack vote on the trade bills? He voted for all 3 of them as well.

      So you have the choice - your vote helps elect a right wing Republican you know will always casts shit votes, or your vote helps elect a moderate Democrat who usually, but not always, votes the right way. As an added bonus, your vote will help decide if Mitch McConnell gets to set the Senate agenda - that will be a surefire guarantee of lots of votes on progressive issues, right?

      I would have thought Floridians would have learned that lesson in 2000. But maybe some people still think that it made no difference if Bush beat Gore, so they're still proud of that Nader vote and what happened in the country from 2001 to 2009.

      My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world - Jack Layton

      by terjeanderson on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 11:37:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's a very stupid thing to do. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      terjeanderson, MichaelNY

      Nelson will vote for your interests 95% of the time!  And Mack will sell you short.  We live in a two-party system.  A vote for a Green or a liberal Indie is about the same as not voting at all.

      'An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.' -Mahatma Gandhi

      by KingofSpades on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 02:37:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Optimistic percent (0+ / 0-)

        There is no way that a Blue Dog conservative Dem like Nelson would vote the interests of a progressive 95% of the time.  I lived in Florida and voted for him one time.  And in this country, despite what political games wonks want to believe, you vote for the person you agree with and REPRESENTS your interests.  Obviously jboxman doesn't agree with Nelson's positions.  Vote Green or Martian jboxman if that's how you feel.  It is not a wasted vote despite what others think.  It's YOUR vote.

  •  damn. i was hoping he would get a pay raise... (0+ / 0-)

    so our useless rep, Mary Bono Mack (his wife), would give up her job.  sadly, senators get the same pay as representatives.

    I'm a blue drop in a red bucket.

    by blue drop on Thu Oct 27, 2011 at 01:48:50 PM PDT

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