Haridop backs Mack; McCalister sounds like he's been watching too much Red Dawn

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Brandon Larrabee of the News Service of Florida reports that the fledgling Senate campaign of U.S. Rep. Connie Mack got a boost Wednesday when a former candidate for the job threw his support behind the congressman.

State Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, told reporters at The Associated Press annual legislative planning day at the Capitol that he would endorse Mack, who supported Haridopolos before the legislator dropped out of the race this summer.

Haridopolos, who had previously expressed disappointment with the campaigns of some of his former rivals, said he liked Mack’s message.

“I want to see him serve in the United State Senate, not just get elected to the United States Senate,” Haridopolos said. “I’m glad to see that he has now elevated the debate in the Republican primary to talk about positive ideas, about lifting people up, as opposed to attacking fellow Republicans.”

Haridopolos served as a sort of surrogate for Mack at the AP event. Mack was one of three Republicans vying for their party’s nomination for the seat who did not attend the gathering. Former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner also weren’t there. But the two outsider candidates, tea-party favorite Mike McCalister and former steakhouse executive Craig Miller, both spoke at the event.

Miller and McCalister are jostling for that outsider mantle. Miller leaned on his business experience to make the case that he would be the best candidate to fix the ailing economy, a message he repeated when asked about Mack entering the campaign.

“There’s one more career politician in the race,” Miller said. “There’s only one businessperson and job creator, so that hasn’t changed.”

On issues, Miller said he would like to see an emphasis on making it easier for people to legally immigrate to the United States and on “voluntary deportation” — essentially by removing the incentives for people to immigrate illegally.

While pointing to his own small tree-growing business as an example of his free-enterprise credentials, McCalister questioned an attempt to tie Miller’s bid to that of Gov. Rick Scott

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, 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.