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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Senate would-be's hit GOP meeting



You don't usually see a bunch of members of Congress at quarterly RPOF meetings, but then you don't usually have an open senate seat looming. So maybe we shouldn't have been surprised to see U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, and Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, schmoozing with the party activists at the Rosen Shingle Creek in Orlando. Natch, they downplayed the Senate talk. Sorta.

Buchanan: "I'm getting a lot of encouragement, and it's something I'm strongly considering,'' he said, stressing that he's focused on the stimulus package in Congress. "I've got some time... Who's in, and who's in on the other side are things I'll consider."

Mack: "I'm interested. I'm getting a lot of encouragement,'' he said, stressing he's focused Congressional business. ... "Not that I'm not making calls, but I've got to stay focused on that. It's way too early for any decision like that."

Bill McCollum, who is a regular at these gatherings, said he has barely started to think about it because he had expected Jeb Bush to run: "I chatted with him before Christmas, and he seemed inclined to do it...I have to go though the (deliberative) process."

We hear Marco Rubio was working the crowd too, but we didn't come across him. Adam Putnam - a more likely candidate for ag commissioner than senate - was also chatting up the party regulars tonight, but when one activist expressed surprise to see him, he jovially reminded her that he usually shows up for such gatherings: "I'm not a Christmas/Easter Republican,'' he quipped.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 14, 2010 3:12pm]


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