Cornelius Harvey McGillicuddy IV has a two point plan for victory in Florida’s US Senate primary: Duck debates and unscripted appearances, and Cover with a tsunami of endorsements to project inevitability. It’s the Connie Mack Duck and Cover plan.
Last weekend, Connie Mack IV ducked a straw poll put on by the Florida Federation of Young Republicans in West Palm Beach. Senator George LeMieux noted Mack’s conspicuous absence and that he had already gotten creamed in a series of other grassroots straw polls. “Do you think Connie Mack IV is scared of me? Or do you think he’s scared of you?” LeMieux scathed the absent candidate for his personal and political record, excoriating the Mack “Penny Plan” for reducing the budget deficit by literally a penny on the dollar. “Balderdash,” LeMieux said bluntly. “I can think of another word [to describe it].” Mack’s absence from the FFYR straw poll also made an easy parallel to questions about his residency status. “Nobody is flushing the toilet at the Mack house,” LeMieux said about water bills suggesting the Fort Myers-based congressman spends very little time in his District.
“Do you think Connie Mack IV is scared of me? Or do you think he’s scared of you?” –Senator George LeMieux to Florida Federation of Young Republicans
Upon hearing the news that Mack IV would be skipping the FFYR event, several Young Republican activists took to the twittersphere with the thread #WhereIsConnieMackIV, a taunt that LeMieux amusingly noted in his stump speech. After hearing from Senator LeMieux and recently declared candidate Dave Weldon, Florida Young Republicans chose their preferred candidate in the race. They supported George LeMieux with an overwhelming 70%, compared to 19% for Connie Mack IV and 9% for Weldon.
Young Republicans aren’t the only ones left in the shade by Connie Mack. At an upcoming Senate debate, Mack will be the only GOP candidate absent. The Orlando Sentinel challenged Mack for ducking the debate, noting “Debates aren’t perfect, but they create the possibility that candidates will stray from their talking points long enough to offer voters a moment of candor or clarity. We could use a little more of that in politics, and a little less calculation.” The liberal DailyKos Elections cautioned, “Yes, Mack leads in the polls, but this kind of attempt to project inevitability doesn’t always work out so well. I’m thinking of a primary, maybe back in 2008… a big one… someone help me out here?” Does Mack think he can blow off the voters altogether and still win?
In an effort to change the narrative from one of ducking to one of covering, the Mack campaign rolled out a series of recent endorsements. GOP big dogs like Jeb Bush, Mitt Romney and Pam Bondi have all been called in to bail out the absentee candidate. But will endorsements be enough to fill the void behind Mack’s empty podium? If he does win, will surrogates take the tough votes when Mack can’t face the pressure himself? Connie Mack can duck and cover from campaign events, but he cannot duck the voters on Election Day.
Join the discussion on Twitter with the thread #WhereIsConnieMackIV