By Chris Ingram
The Tampa Tribune
Saturday, June 16, 2012
Up until May 18, Florida Republicans were basically facing a choice between just two candidates for the party’s nomination to the U.S. Senate to challenge Bill Nelson in November.
Although Cornelius McGillicuddy IV (aka: Connie Mack) lacks accomplishment, he has been the presumptive front-runner in the race, while George LeMieux has worked tirelessly to get Republican voters to forget that he used to be Charlie Crist’s right-hand man.
After watching the field of previous candidates fail to make traction, Mack got in relatively late. But given that his father was a member of Congress from Florida for 18 years, he has been able to take advantage of daddy’s hard work and reputation to rise to the top.
But all that rises to the top isn’t necessarily the cream of the crop. Mack was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and hasn’t ever let go. Other than great lineage and marrying well, Mack has never achieved much without using the old family name. Further proof of his lack of skills and talent recently became evident when he refused to participate in a planned televised debate.
For his part, LeMieux is smart and determined, has his law degree and was chief of staff to Gov. Crist. But outside of being a self-made politico, he’s just another politician with a cunning twist.
Mack recently accused LeMieux of “extorting or bribery” of Crist to get himself appointed to the U.S. Senate when Mel Martinez resigned. Regardless, LeMieux struggles to connect with GOP activist voters who loath all things related to Charlie.
To his credit, Lemieux does well with Tallahassee and Washington insiders — the same insiders who supported Crist for Senate before he bolted the GOP when he realized he was going to get clobbered in the primary by Marco Rubio.
None of this sits well for the Republican Party’s prospects of defeating the incumbent Nelson, who remains the luckiest man in Congress, having bested such GOP “stars” as Bill McCollum and Katherine Harris in the past.
Enter Dave Weldon.