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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Connie Mack already voted in his Senate primary, pushes for Bill Nelson to accept debate invites

10

August

Rep. Connie Mack IV isn't completely ignoring his GOP primary -- turns out, he voted early.

"What do you think?" he said Friday when a reporter asked who got his vote. "These are the type of crack questions that you get from some of the reporters."

Mack, who irked activists by declining invitations to primary debates and has chastised Bill Nelson for focusing on his past instead of issues, said he's now waiting on Sen. Nelson to accept his debate invitations.

"So maybe you ought to go ask Sen. Nelson when he's going to accept those debates," he told reporters. He refused to give more details.

"Nope, I can't, I can't," he said. "But you can ask Sen. Nelson when he's going to accept those debates." (The Buzz awaits Nelson's response.)

Mack has a double-digit lead in the polls over his primary contenders. Former Rep. Dave Weldon, though, has picked up a string of support recently from anti-abortion leaders and groups, including James Dobson, Personhood FL PAC and Florida Right to Life. (The lead item on Weldon's website right now? Nelson's "Meet Connie" attack ad.)

Mack spoke to reporters after swinging through Sayler's Suncoast Water, a Pinellas Park business owned by Alan Sayler. He planned an afternoon meet-and-greet with volunteers in Clearwater.

Mack's Web-only ad said some of Nelson's attacks were inaccurate, though Mack didn't dispute the ad's accuracy on Friday.

"The point of the ad is that some of it may be true, some of it's not true, but even if it were all true, who cares? This is about jobs and the economy. Sen. Nelson wants to hide from his record," he said.

"People don't care about what somebody did in their past, how many times someone flushes their toilet, who bought what condo at what price, they care about the issues," Mack said, referring to stories about his finances and light water use at his Fort Myers townhouse.

PolitiFact Florida

reviewed Nelson's claim that Mack has been "a promoter for Hooters with a history of bar room brawling, altercations and road rage." The verdict is

Mostly True

.

Sayler's water conditioning business employs five people and has been in operation 35 years. Sayler complained about the burdens of "Obamacare" and other taxes on his business (though he actually collects tax breaks for offering health insurance to his employees). He said Mack's campaign coordinated his visit through the National Federation of Independent Business, which sued over the health care law.

Referring to the tax credits, Sayler told the Times, "They're paying me to stick their nose further in my business."

Sayler and Mack went inside his office, and Sayler plucked a framed photograph from the wall.

"Recognize?" Sayler asked. The photo was of Mack's father, former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack III.

"I recognize ... That's a good looking wall you've there," Mack said, noting Sayler's pictures with Ronald Reagan and Jeb Bush.

They joked about how he needed a picture with a new Sen. Mack, and laughed about the placement of a photo with former Florida Gov. Lawton Chiles, a Democrat, hanging behind the open door.

Mack spent 20 minutes in a circle with a dozen small business owners from Tampa Bay, including John Doble of Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City and Vince Shook, president of Florida Orange Grovers Inc. and Winery in St. Petersburg.

-- Katie Sanders, Times staff writer

[Last modified: Friday, August 10, 2012 2:36pm]

    

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