Thursday, June 21, 2018
Politics

Mack's message to Republicans: Supporting Sen. Bill Nelson is like supporting the president

BRANDON — Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney and Bill Nelson vs. Connie Mack IV may be different races, but Mack is determined to make them inextricably entwined.

"Every time Barack Obama needed a friend in the United States Senate he turned to his friend Bill Nelson,'' Mack told more than 150 people at a Hillsborough County Republican Party meeting Tuesday night after a day campaigning in Pasco County.

Mack, a congressman from Fort Myers and son of the former Florida senator with the same name, faces an incumbent Democrat who in prior elections has consistently peeled away sizable chunks of Republican voters in Florida. So Mack, 44, is determined to link Nelson, 69, to the president loathed by many Republicans

"Look, if Mitt Romney wins, we win. If I win, he wins,'' Mack said of Romney, whom he endorsed while many grass roots Republicans were still backing other GOP presidential contenders. "We're going to be tied in this election, just like Obama and Nelson are tied."

In Mack, Nelson faces one of the toughest challengers he's had in years. A June 9-11 Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald/Bay News 9 poll found Nelson leading Mack 47 percent to 42 percent among likely Florida voters.

Still, Mack has faced some bumps, from questions about missing House votes to sending congressional mail funded by taxpayers earlier this year to voters far outside his district.

On Tuesday, his campaign faced questions about why his Senate campaign charged nearly $470 for clothing at a Brooks Brothers in Jacksonville, federal records show, an apparent violation of law.

Records show identical charges of $234 were made on April 12 and May 16 and the campaign listed it as "clothing." Federal law prohibits the use of campaign funds on items including "clothing, other than slogan type items."

Mack declined to comment Tuesday night about the charges. But his spokesman, David James, told the Times, "The Brooks Brothers charges were mistaken, inappropriate charges made by travel staff. All charges have been reversed in the form of a reimbursement by staff which will show up in the next report."

He added: "Nothing more here than a staffer taking a liberty instead of finding a dry cleaner. Aren't you going to ask about taxes, Obamacare or job creation?"

Mack made a four-stop trip in Pasco. He continued his strategy of ignoring the upcoming GOP primary and trying to link Nelson with President Obama.

Mack still faces competition for the GOP nomination from former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon of Melbourne and retired Army Col. Mike McAllister of Plant City, though he leads overwhelmingly in recent polls.

Times Staff Writer Alex Leary contributed to this report.

Correction: Mack has faced questions about missing House votes. An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to a different chamber.

Comments
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Updated: 14 minutes ago
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18
Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

Muralist working with huge St. Pete ‘canvas’ to create neighborhood eye-grabber

ST. PETERSBURG — They appear to rise out of nowhere — two enormous, reclaimed-water tanks with an artist’s white clouds scudding across a blue background.A closer view reveals silhouettes of a lone coyote howling at the sky, mangrove islands, oak, cy...
Published: 06/19/18
FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

FBI agent removed from Russia probe for anti-Trump texts says he’s willing to testify before Congress

The FBI agent who was removed from the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election for sending anti-Trump texts intends to testify before the House Judiciary Committee and any other congressional committee that asks, his attorney sai...
Published: 06/17/18