Months ahead of voting, Connie Mack declared the Republican U.S. Senate primary over, declining an invitation to participate in a televised debate hosted by the Tampa Bay Times that would have put him on the same stage as opponent George LeMieux, Mike McCalister and Dave Weldon.
“It’s clear the race for the U.S. Senate in Florida is now between Connie Mack, the Republican, and Bill Nelson, the Democrat,” Mack’s campaign manager Jeff Cohen wrote in a letter to the Tampa Bay Times.
Mack’s victory is inevitable, right? Not exactly, as little-known candidate Marielena Stuart proved last night at the Pinellas GOP’s straw poll, winning a vote of in the bellwether county which two years ago helped propel Marco Rubio’s march to the GOP nomination.
But for Mack, Pinellas County was just another loss on his own march to, what, inevitability?
Including last night, Mack has lost a string of straw polls.
In February, George LeMieux won the straw poll of the Florida Federation of Republican Women after a forum in Tallahassee. Mack came in third — last place — behind McCalister.
At a March straw poll, at a statewide gathering of Tea Party activists in Orlando, LeMieux won overwhelmingly with 53 percent of the vote, followed by McCalister with 25 percent and Mack with 21 percent. A month later, LeMieux won the East Manatee straw poll with Mack finishing a distant third after not showing up.
LeMieux would go on to win a straw poll at a Hillsborough GOP picnic in May and then take 70% of the ballots at a straw poll hosted by the Florida Young Republicans earlier this month.
That makes Connie Mack 0-for-6 in straw polls across the state, among both moderate and conservative Republicans and Tea Party activists.
Mack’s familiar with baseball terms, right? Zero-for-6 is how one describes as a shut-out, not inevitability.