By Yael Ossowski | Florida Watchdog
MIAMI — The past few months haven’t been kind to the fourth-generation Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy.
The four-term Fort Myers Republican congressman, better known as Connie Mack IV, was once considered the conservative favorite in the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.
But fresh questions about the congressman’s voting record and lackluster campaign fundraising have put the victory speeches on hold — for now.
LeMieux is best known for being chief of staff for former Gov. Charlie Christ
, who also appointed LeMieux to the Senate seat in the wake of Mel Martinez
’s resignation in 2009.
Despite endorsement from key groups in the state, including the Tea Party of Florida and the American Conservative Union, as well as former Gov. Jeb Bush, Mack has been unable to bring in any significant contributions.
As far as the numbers are concerned, the congressman is having a hard time keeping up with a candidate who officially bowed out of the race nine months ago — Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos
Federal Elections Commission records show Haridopolos raised $3.5 million last year and still has $1.4 million on hand, while Mack raised $2.2 million and LeMieux collected $2 million.
But the Mack's troubles do not end there.
According to records obtained by POLITICO
, Mack has missed 41 percent of all House votes in the 2012 session, making him the top House delinquent seeking Senate office this year, and an easy target for his primary opponents.
“If Connie Mack the Fourth isn’t doing his job in the House, why would Floridians promote him to the Senate?” asked LeMieux in a statement.
Both the Mack and LeMieux campaigns failed to return calls to Florida Watchdog.
A sense of entitlement
No matter how heated the primary battle however, Mack has consistently focused his attacks on Nelson, the incumbent.
In a radio ad released Tuesday
, Mack hit Nelson on his “stubborn refusal” to accept the Keystone Pipeline System, a key campaign issue for Mack, who started a petition in favor of the pipeline on his website. Keystone would be a network of pipes that would bring oil from Canada to various spots in the United States.
Christian Robinson, a spokesman for the Nelson campaign, told Florida Watchdog that the radio ad is entirely “fictitious, and is from someone who makes untrue statements about his own energy positions.”
The Nelson campaign pointed to an earlier finding by PolitiFact
, a fact-checking website run by the Tampa Bay Times, which rated Mack’s earlier statements on oil drilling as “Pants on Fire.”
Frank Torres, a political consultant in Orlando for Central Florida News 13, laid down the political perspective for Florida Watchdog.
“Bill Nelson has to feel pretty good about the way things are going right now,” Torres said. “There is a huge lack of enthusiasm for the Republican candidates right now, and it truly is a microcosm of the broader presidential race.”
Torres said that Nelson remains a weak incumbent, just like President Obama at the national level, but Republicans have struggled to generate any significant interest or excitement on their side.
“There aren’t any other easy names to turn to now — Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater declined and the others have their problems — Connie Mack just because of his sense of entitlement and George LeMieux because of his ties to Charlie Christ,” Torres said, adding that Mack will "most likely" end up the GOP candidate.
“But one thing remains certain. This race will really depend on what happens in the presidential run. As Barack Obama goes, Bill Nelson goes. As Mitt Romney goes, so goes Connie Mack,” Torres said.