Connie Mack – Impressions of the Presumptive GOP Challenger
The Senate race has produced a number of interesting candidates, many of whom see the value in grassroots support and have reached out to our various groups. Of those that dropped out, Mike Haridopolos, an early favorite, met with 912 state leaders in Orlando, and made the trip to Wings Plus for a DCWFUS session. Adam Hasner, who won the CPAC-FL straw poll, made the rounds of all the meetings and took time to get to know grassroots leaders personally. George LeMieux made multiple appearances at Tea Party events and valued our input. Those that remain – Mike McCalister, Marielena Stuart, Ron McNeil, Dave Weldon and others, started from the grassroots and have maintained their relationships.
So what about Connie Mack?
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a meeting with Congressman Mack in West Palm Beach, organized by PBC Tea Party leader Pam Wohlschlegel. The meeting took place at the county Chamber of Commerce offices. The Congressman has not spent much time in the area, and I haven’t seen him at public events since his unimpressive drive-by visit to the Republican Club of the Northern Palm Beaches in February, so the fact that this meeting was taking place was a positive sign.
I found out afterwards that there were strict rules for the meeting. He did not or could not attend a full meeting of the PBC Tea Party, and limited the attendance to this small group. He was persuaded to jump right into a question and answer session, which he took in order, going around the table. Speaking out of turn was discouraged. It was not an “I need your support” kind of meeting.
The establishment insider’s “pick”, Congressman Mack has proceeded as if there was no primary competition, refusing to debate his opponents, avoiding editorial board interviews and limiting his public appearances. Any questions about the “negatives” that have surfaced, are attributed to hostile media. Since his father Connie Mack III, was a popular Senator and many confuse the two, the family name is proving to be golden.
All that said, he came across very well in the meeting.
Research into his voting record reveals solidly conservative positions. Unlike some other Congressman we support (you know who you are), he voted against the federal debt ceiling increase last year, and opposed the ‘super committee’. He flatly states that the expected outcome of the super committee and sequester arrangement was to purposely gut the military, part of the Obama administration policy to reduce our readiness to the point we can only “fight one war” at a time (as opposed to previous doctrine supporting two). “If you can only fight one war then you don’t”, he said. “Otherwise you can get flanked.”
He answered a wide variety of questions with an in depth understanding of policy and its nuance, and didn’t duck any questions or try to change the subject. Some positions include: secure the borders first, repeal Dodd/Frank and Obamacare, support Israel as our best ally in the middle east, and reduce the cost of health care with association health plans and tort reform. He clearly sees this election as a turning point in our history and sees defeating Obama and regaining the Senate as absolutely critical to our way of life.
Regarding the campaign, he admitted that Senator Nelson has considerably more money in the bank, but he expects significant aid from superPacs, some of which are already running negative ads against Nelson. Asked what he wants from the grassroots, he stated that no statewide election is won without grassroots support to get out the vote, although he did not make much of a pitch in this meeting to get that support.
So where does this leave us? If the polls are to be believed, he will be the nominee. If you are currently supporting another candidate, there is no reason not to continue, but if Congressman Mack does win as expected, I believe he will be as clear an alternative to Senator Nelson as you could wish, and has a fair shot at winning. So if you oppose the direction the President and Bill Nelson are taking the country, be prepared to saddle up after the primary.