The Campaign Is On: Three R’s Gunning For Last Democrat Nelson


Florida Democrats have two things to worry about in 2011:  Laying the groundwork for Barack Obama’s re-election and saving U. S. Sen. Bill Nelson’s hide.

Two Republicans are already gunning for Nelson, Florida’s last statewide Democrat.

A third, George LeMieux is widely believed to be running, too.

They Republicans will be tying Nelson to Obama.  They’ll be calling this lifelong conservative Democrat “Liberal Bill.”   He’ll become an Obama clone by the end of the campaign.

Nelson and Obama: You’re Sure To See Lots of Photos Like This In the GOP Campaign

Who are these GOP candidates hoping to topple Nelson?

Two have ties to Broward County  LeMieux, 41, and U. S. Rep. Connie Mack, 43.

The third candidate is Senate President Mike Haridopolos, 40, of Melbourne.

This primary will be a race to the right.   By the end of the race, the candidates will be leaning so far to the right they will need walkers to hold them upright.

LeMieux: Is Crist His Problem?

LeMieux has the weakest conservative credentials.  He is closely tied to Charlie Crist.  He was Crist’s campaign strategist and was appointed by Crist to the U. S. Senate for a short term ending this week.

To hard core Republicans– the kind of likely voters in a primary — Crist is poison.  He embraced Obama, took recovery money from Washington and quit the GOP to make a failed independent run for the U. S. Senate.

LeMieux also has the strongest ties to Broward, having been raised here.  He once chaired the  Broward Republican Party, heading its more moderate wing.

His candidacy got a big boost from his former law firm last month.  He was rehired by Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart after leaving the Senate and given a dream job.

As of this week, LeMieux will “provide corporate counseling to the firm’s clients, according to Gunster’s news release.  LeMieux “will jointly lead  Gunster in advancing its strategic plan to expand to every major business center in Florida.

So LeMieux’s new job will put him in touch with high rolling corporate political donors across the state.  It gives him a way to raise money although he is out of office.

I know LeMieux.  He is whip smart and has a great political instincts.  I would never count him out.

Mack Starts As Front Runner

But at this point, I would say Mack is the man to beat.

Mack he is already putting a campaign team together is Connie Mack IV, real name Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy IV.  He comes from a celebrity dynasty.

He starts this race with the best name ID.

His great grandfather was Connie Mack, famed manager and owner of the Philadelphia Athletics. This Mack is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

His father is Connie Mack III, who was elected a congressman from southwest Florida in 1983.  He then won a bruising 1988 U. S. Senate race against Democrat Buddy MacKay using the tag line: “Hey Buddy, You’re A Liberal.

Mack also ran on the platform of less government, less taxes, more freedom.  It is a platform his son has embraced since he served as a Florida House member representing Fort Lauderdale in 2000-2003.

So little Mack has conservative credential stretching back to his father.  And he will pick up Big Mack’s extensive statewide and Washington network of conservative supporters.

Little Mack has got another big advantage:  His wife.

Mary Bono Mack is the glam former spouse of entertainer Sonny (Sonny and Cher) Bono.  She took Sonny’s seat in Congress when he died in a skiing accident.

She can help Little Mack tap into California conservatives.  I’m sure she will help him campaign, too.

I know less about Haridopolos.   He does have solid conservative credentials as we will all soon find out when the 2011 Legislative session starts.

But members of the Florida Legislature have been spectacularly unsuccessful in going directly from Tallahassee to the U. S. Senate.  Even Marco Rubio— the first U. S. Senator I can remember whose only other significant political job was in the Legislature — was out of office two years before winning.

The race will be hard fought.   It has already started.

Expect these three to start raising money in Broward in the early part of the year. Maybe they’ll even make some public appearances.

The only thing for sure about this GOP primary is that Nelson had better watch out.  The three candidates are a generation younger than him.  He is notorious for ignoring voters in South Florida until it is time to raise money.

Any of the three could beat Nelson depending on what is happening nationally and with Obama.

And with Nelson will go Florida’s last statewide Democratic office holder.

9 Responses to “The Campaign Is On: Three R’s Gunning For Last Democrat Nelson”

  1. Floridan says:

    I suppose if Floridians are willing to elect a Rick Scott, the bart has been set low enough even for a dolt like Connie Mack.

  2. Nelson is a true partisan says:

    I had always liked Bill Nelson, until the BP spill disaster.
    One late afternoon a segment comes on MSNBC with Bill Nelson and I believe Speaker Pelosi both standing in front of a big flat screen T.V.
    They were explaining how this spill and the failure to stop it was ALL BP’s fault. The screen they stood before showed the leak spewing oil and they were passionate how BP was culpable and to a certain extent so were Republicans.
    But, this was presentation was done WHILE THE OIL WAS STILL LEAKING!
    I was shocked, angered and disgusted that instead of showing me a presentation of how Senator Nelson was working to stop the leak, he was working on a political angle of pointing a guilty finger DURING the disaster.
    Politically speaking, I am basically in-line with Senator Nelson.
    However, after I witnessed him trying to make a political score out of an ONGOING disaster, he has forever lost my respect and vote.
    p.s. Buddy, if you can find the link for that video, I am sure your readers would also be shocked…

    FROM BUDDY: I poked around a little and found lots of videos featuring Bill Nelson speaking about BP. That’s because he sponsored a liability bill to raise the cap on oil spills from $75 million, according to The Hill. Pelosi was also pushing such a bill in the House.

    I don’t know if it passed.

  3. Kevin says:


    Connie Mack owned the Philadelphia ATHLETICS!!!! Shame on you! LOL.


    FROM BUDDY: Thanks for catching that.

  4. Broward Dee says:

    Buddy is right. I have been active in the party for over 10 years and I can count on one hand the times that I have seen Bill Nelson. He takes the Democrats down here for granted. Unless you can give him money, he doesn’t want to talk to you.

  5. GOPapa says:

    In two years everybody will have forgotten about Charlie Crist. I have already.

    The voters traditional amnesia could save LeMieux. I still agree that Connie Mack is the one to beat.

  6. Kevin Tynan says:

    Buddy – All three will be great candidates, but you have to go with our favorite son, George LeMieux!

  7. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    why is Kevin saying LOL to Buddy? is he saying Lots of Luck??

    FROM BUDDY: I prefer to believe he is saying “lots of love.” But actually on the Internet, LOL usually means “laughing out loud.”

  8. Nicholas Steffens says:

    I don’t think it’s Democrats job, at this point, to “save” Senator Nelson. It’s our job to ensure we put forward the best candidate in the Fall 2012. Deference and respect will be paid to Sen. Nelson, but there are people looking for options. We will see.

  9. Frank Aboudit says:

    The real shame is that “only people with money” are considered viable and respectable candidates.

    I don’t believe for a second that any of them have the people at heart. They only seek to enrich themselves politically and socially.