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U.S. Senate

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and two other candidates are hoping to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is seeking his third term. Voters will decide whom to send to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 6. Brittany Alana Davis, Times/Herald Tallahassee bureau

Bill Nelson, 70

U.S. Senator

Connie Mack, 45

U.S. representative

Bill Gaylor, 64

Small business owner

Chris Borgia, 33


PartyDemocratRepublicanNo party affiliationIndependent
Experience First elected to public office in 1972, Nelson has served as a state legislator, a congressman and a state cabinet officer. He has been a U.S. senator since 2000. He touts his efforts to help Everglades restoration, stop the government from confiscating lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada and protect the state's space program. He served six years in the Army and Army Reserve. Mack was elected in 2004 to represent the state's 14th Congressional District in Southwest Florida. He also served three years in the Florida House. Before that, he spent seven years as a marketing executive with Fort Myers-based LTP Management, a company that owns and operates several restaurants, including Hooters. His father, Connie Mack III, is a former U.S. senator. Built Trusted Choice Independent Insurance agency with his wife, Sheila. Transferred business to her in 2010. Previously, he worked in sales for Diamond Shamrock Alberta Gas, later named Novacor, in Canada. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Borgia was a soldier and a platoon leader in Baghdad. Previously, he started a local magazine publication. Before that, when Borgia was in high school and college, he worked as a magician for children's birthday parties.
EducationAttended the University of Florida before transferring to Yale University, where he earned his bachelor's degree. He also earned a law degree at the University of Virginia.Bachelor's degree in advertising from the University of Florida. After attending Oxford College of Emory University for two years, he earned his bachelor's degree from the University of South Florida. Bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Florida.
What are the biggest challenges facing the state? Putting Floridians back to work and protecting and expanding the middle class. Nelson said he will fight economic inequality and unfairness. People need jobs. The housing market is in shambles. Economic growth is anemic. Floridians know that when taxes are low and budgets are balanced, the state will prosper, flourish and grow.States' rights. The federal government is now the obstacle. Fraud, waste, corruption and bully politics rule the day. There is a spending problem at all levels of government, not a revenue problem. Florida voters are affected by the same challenges we face at a national level. The state has an unstable economy, a weak job market, an unfair and complicated tax code, a massive and growing national debt, and a tainted democratic process.
Why are you more qualified to address those challenges than your opponents? Nelson says he has spent his life fighting for Florida. He's in the race for Florida and the country, he says, not special interests. Mack says Nelson voted for the Affordable Care Act, to cut money from Medicare Advantage and to gut the military. Mack says he has voted against President Barack Obama's wasteful policies and introduced a plan to balance the budget.No political handcuffs or baggage. Not beholden to special interests. Having lived and worked in different parts of the world, Gaylor says he sees the exceptionalism of America. Opponents are members of a party and accept large contributions from the same groups impacted by their vote. He says he is an independent and only accepts small dollar donations.
What is your stance on oil and gas drilling off the Florida coast? One spill could ruin the state's tourism economy, destroy protected environmental sites and jeopardize the test and training range for the military. Nelson co-authored and helped pass a law that closes the eastern Gulf of Mexico to drilling. Strongly supports the KeyStone XL Pipeline. Florida should be empowered to determine whether to drill off the coast. Done safely and in the right locations, drilling won't impact Florida's tourism or military.Only after exhausting land and energy resources. If any drilling does occur, it must be out of the sight of Florida beaches, drilled by American companies and strictly monitored.He supports the exploration of natural resources, but does not support drilling unless it is safe, clean and far enough off the cost to ensure the economy and beaches are not adversely affected.
How should the federal government best approach the issue of immigration?Helped sponsor the Dream Act, which says no law should punish children because their parents brought them here. Immigrant children who graduate from high school should be able to join the military or attend college. Florida should be a beacon for those seeking freedom, but U.S. borders should still be protected. The country needs a legal immigration system that meets the needs of the country and its economy.Children of noncitizens should not automatically get citizenship. The U.S. should place stringent penalties on businesses that hire illegal immigrants so they will self-deport.Federal policy should aim for more legal immigration and less illegal immigration. He does not support massive deportation or amnesty for all. A sensible immigration policy will not reward law breakers, but neither will it punish the innocent children of law breakers.
AssetsThree SunTrust Bank accounts ($50,000 to $100,000); two undeveloped properties in Brevard County ($100,000 to $250,000)Royalties: Bono Collection Trust, Warner Music, Wixen Music Publishing, dozens of stocks. (Mack's wife was once married to Sonny Bono.) Homestead and commercial building, various stocks, $8,000 in bank accounts, three automobilesCampaign RV
LiabilitiesCredit cards with Bank of America and CitibankRental property ($250,000 to $500,000); three additional mortgages ($100,000 to $1 million) Credit cards with American Express, MasterCardNone
IncomeWife's trust compensation, $100,000; Florida retirement income, $43,706; U.S. Senate salary, $174,000Congressional salary, $174,000 per year; wife's pension, $6,024Social Security; Novacor pension; $60,000 for wife's salary and sharesNo taxable income; lives off savings
PersonalMarried; two grown childrenMarried; two children and two stepchildrenMarried; four childrenSingle; no children
Emailcomments@nelsonforsenate.cominfo@conniemack. com

About the job: Each state has two U.S. senators who serve staggered six-year terms. The legislative branch's prestigious upper chamber has several duties not afforded to the U.S. House, including consenting to treaties and confirming appointments. U.S. senators are paid $174,000 per year.

Florida's U.S. Senate: Bill Nelson (D), Connie Mack (R), Chris Borgia (Independent), Bill Gaylor (no party)

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and two other candidates are hoping to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who is seeking his third term. Voters will decide whom to send to the U.S. Senate on Nov. 6.

Florida's U.S. Senate: Bill Nelson (D), Connie Mack (R), Chris Borgia (Independent), Bill Gaylor (no party) 10/17/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 17, 2012 3:11pm]
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