Connie Mack faces long historical odds in launching Florida U.S. Senate bid

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Inview of Florida Republican Congressman Connie Mack? expected announcement Friday morning that he will run for the U.S. Senate in 2012, Smart Politics’Eric J. Ostermeierexamines the track record of U.S. House members winning Senate seats in the Sunshine State. The findings:

  • A Smart Politics analysis finds only 2 of 14 Florida U.S. Representatives have launched successful U.S. Senate candidacies since 1970 (14 percent), and just 4 of 17 since popular vote elections were introduced nearly a century ago (23 percent).
  • Only one Florida U.S. Representative has been able to defeat anincumbent Senator ?Democrat George Smathers 60+ years ago in 1950 (winning the Democratic nomination fromSenatorClaude Pepper and the subsequent general election).
  • The only two successful candidacies by Florida U.S. Representatives over the past 40 years have occurred inopen seat races ?Republican Connie Mack III in 1988 and Democrat Bill Nelson in 2000 (who had been out of office for 10 years).
  • With 14 attempts in just 40 years, U.S. House members from Florida seem to be making a habit out of running for the nation’s upper legislative chamber – despitevery limited success. Failed bids include 8-term GOP Representative Bill Cramer (1970), 1-term Democratic Representative Bill Gunter (1974, 1980), 5-term GOP Representative Louis Frey (1980), 3-term Democratic Representative Buddy MacKay (1988), 5-term Democratic Representative Dan Mica (1988), 3-term Republican Representative Bill Grant (1992), 10-term GOP Representative Bill McCollum (2000, 2004), 6-term Democratic Representative Peter Deutsch (2004), 2-term Republican Representative Katherine Harris (2006), and 4-term Democratic Representative Kendrick Meek (2010).
  • During the 54-year stretch from Florida? first popular vote election in 1914 through 1968, there were merely three attempts by Florida U.S. Representatives to win Senate seats: a loss by Democrat Mark Wilcox (1938) and victories by Democrat George Smathers (1950) and Republican Edward Gurney (1968).

Smart Politics complete report can be found here.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.