By Yaël Ossowski | Florida Watchdog
“Any such Republican primary debate exercise would only serve to benefit Sen. Nelson, which no Republican wants to see,” Mack spokesman David James said Wednesday.Two months to the day before the Republican Senate primary elections in Florida, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-District 14, has stated he has no intention of debating his GOP opponents — reserving his energy for the “now clear” U.S. Senate race against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, according to campaign manager Jeff Cohen.
Though Mack has set his eyes on the Senate election in the fall, he still will need to receive the majority of Republican votes in the Aug 14 primary, the same goal pursued by five other opponents who are not necessarily political unknowns:
- Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla.;
- Former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon, of District 15;
- Col. Mike McCalister, of Plant City;
- Catholic blogger Marielena Stuart, of Naples;
- Deon Long, of Winter Park.
LeMieux, Weldon and McCalister, each having attained traceable support in public opinion polls, have accepted invitations to debates organized by the The Orlando Sentinel, The Tampa Bay Times and Leadership Florida with the Florida Press Association, but Mack has so far declined to participate.
Mack cites his numerous endorsements from Republican leaders including former Gov. Jeb Bush and presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, as well as the latest Quinnipiac University poll conducted from May 15-21.
The survey gives Mack 40 percent from the 1,722 registered voters who participated in the poll, well above the 8 percent for McCalister and 7 percent for LeMieux, with a margin of error of 2.4 percent.
Mack was out-polled, however, by the voters who remain undecided — 41 percent.
LeMieux, the most vocal opponent of Mack this primary season, was the first to offer criticism.
“Mack the Fourth wants a coronation and not an election,” LeMieux said in a statement. “That is not how our political system works and Floridians deserve a primary.”
McCalister, Stuart and Weldon could not be reached for comment.