Marco Rubio is not the only Republican running in the U.S. Senate primary

Former state House Speaker Marco Rubio's path to the Republican nomination for the United States Senate got a lot smoother after Gov. Charlie Crist left the GOP to run as an independent.

But he still has two competitors to overcome in the Aug. 24 primary.

By traditional political standards, both rivals have offered only nominal opposition to the sophisticated, heavily funded Rubio operation. Campaign contributions provide a clue to the level of support for a candidate, and federal records indicate that neither man has reported donations.

Here's a look at all three candidates.

William Escoffery III, 66, of Shalimar, is a doctor and self-described political novice. His website says he is an opponent of abortion, adamantly opposed to the Obama administration and against gay marriage. He wants to "put God and Christian ethics back in our schools, homes and public places.''

A native of Jamaica, Escoffery says he is a lifelong Republican and a physician with 40 years experience. State records show he is a graduate of the University of the West Indies, with training in pathology in Toronto, Canada.

Summing up his views on the state of the nation, he writes: "Following our recent financial meltdown, the radical President Obama & his Marxist Czars are intent on wrecking private enterprise in America, instituting Socialism throughout the land, bankrupting our Nation, bowing down to foreign leaders, demeaning America, thwarting our fight against Islamic Terrorism and crippling our foreign power!''

William "Bill'' Kogut, 55, a Realtor from Ormond Beach who advocates, among other things, abolishing the income tax and foreign aid, and punishing employers who hire illegal immigrants.

It is the second time Kogut has been a Senate candidate, having tried for the GOP nomination in 2004 as well. He was one of eight candidates on the Republican primary ballot that year.

The St. Petersburg Times editorial board remarked at that time that he had "no discernible campaign,'' and recommended Mel Martinez for the nomination.

Martinez went on to win the nomination and the seat. With 16 months left in his first term, Martinez quit, throwing open the current Senate race.

Kogut has run a similarly low-profile campaign this time. A native of Poland, he describes himself as a strong believer in the "9.12 principles'' put forward by talk show host Glenn Beck. on his website, Kogut calls for an audit of the Federal Reserve and the United Nations.

He lists as previous experience in elective office three terms on the borough council in Wallington, N.J., before moving to Florida.

Rubio, 39, of West Miami, was speaker of the Florida House from 2006 to 2008, and previously served as a West Miami city commissioner. Rubio is the son of Cuban immigrants.

He has called for extending the Bush tax cuts, ending estate taxes and taxes on capital gains and dividends.

He also says he would cut corporate taxes, repeal the Obama health care plan, ban earmarks, cut White House and Congressional budgets and pass a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

In the recent dispute over plans for a mosque in the viscinity of ground zero for the World Trade Center attack, Rubio said: Republican Marco Rubio said, "We are a nation founded on strong principles of religious freedom. However, we cannot be blind to the pain 9/11 caused our nation and the families of the victims.

"It is divisive and disrespectful to build a mosque next to the site where 3,000 innocent people were murdered at the hands of Islamic extremism. I strongly disagree with President Obama and Charlie Crist."

In July, when the question of extending unemployment benefits came up in Congress, Rubio sided with the GOP leadership, opposing the extension unless specific cuts were identified to offset the $34 billion cost.

"At some point someone has to draw a line in the sand and say we are serious about not growing debt," he said.

In May he released tax records showing his income increased from $82,710 in 2000 when he was elected to the Florida House to $301,864 in 2004 — the year he stepped on the political track to become House speaker, one of the Legislature's most powerful posts. During his last year in Tallahassee, Rubio earned nearly $400,000, with the bulk of the money coming from the Miami law firm of Broad & Cassell.

After term limits forced Rubio to leave office in 2008, he started his own law firm and stitched together an income from a number of clients and consulting contracts.

In February 2009, he launched a campaign for the Senate that involved constant travel for public appearances and private fundraising events.

Since 2009, Rubio has earned $230,754 from his law firm, $60,265 in consulting fees and $72,674 from his teaching job at Florida International University, according to a personal financial disclosure form he filed last week with the secretary of the Senate.

You can find out more about all three by visiting their websites:

Escoffery: www.senatebill.us

Kogut: kogut2010.intuitwebsites.com

Rubio: www.marcorubio.com

Marco Rubio is not the only Republican running in the U.S. Senate primary 08/20/10 [Last modified: Friday, August 20, 2010 10:26pm]

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