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Connie Mack IV starts strong in U.S. Senate poll

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV is blowing away his rivals in the GOP U.S. Senate primary and is in a statistical dead heat with incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, according to a new Quinnipiac poll. Mack gets 40 percent to Nelson's 42.

Mack just entered the race and is benefiting from name recognition. His father, Connie Mack III, is a former U.S. senator.

"The entrance of Congressman Connie Mack into the Senate race changes what had been shaping up as an easy re-election for Sen. Bill Nelson into a tough fight that the incumbent could lose," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The fact that Mack is essentially tied with Nelson, who has been a statewide political figure for two decades, should set off warning bells at Democratic headquarters."

Mack takes 32 percent of the vote in the Republican primary vs. George LeMieux with 9 percent; Mike McCalister with 6 percent; and Craig Miller and Adam Hasner each at 2 percent.

"Congressman Connie Mack inherited a popular name,'' said LeMieux spokeswoman Anna Nix. "Once Republican voters realize Congressman Mack is not his father, voted for trillions in deficit spending and wasteful pork, and voted to raise his own congressional salary, his support will collapse."

Despite questions about inaccuracies in his family's Cuban immigrant story, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio's approval rating remains the same from September —49 percent approve while 29 percent disapprove.

Gov. Rick Scott's job approval remains in the cellar: 36 percent approve of his job performance, while 50 percent disapprove. Among crucial independent voters, 29 percent approve and 56 percent disapprove.

The Oct. 31 to Nov. 7 poll had a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points and 4.3 percent for questions only asked of Republican voters.

Risky Rubio?

Marco Rubio for vice president? Florida Democratic chairman Rod Smith predicts it won't happen. He even compares putting Rubio on the ticket in 2012 to putting Sarah Palin on the ticket in 2008.

"Marco Rubio in the last election showed that he has strength in Florida, but I don't know if that reflected on him or if it reflected on the times,'' Smith, dismissing Rubio's ability to swing Florida to the GOP nominee, said in a Political Connections interview airing today on Bay News 9 at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m.

"Sen. Rubio is untested right now on the national stage and I don't think anybody would take a risk on him,'' said Smith, who served in the state Senate while Rubio was in the state House. "The last election, if it shows anything, is that you can get some internal excitement from an untested choice, but an untested choice can come back to bite you."

Standing by Cain

The Herman Cain Florida campaign keeps rolling on, despite the publicity about sexual harassment allegations. He announced grass roots chairpersons for each of Florida's 67 counties last week.

Tampa Bay's include Hillsborough — Karen Jaroch, chairwoman of Tampa 912, founder of No Tax for Trax; Pasco — Roger Whidden, member of Pasco 912, Wesley Chapel Republican Club, and Tampa Tea Party; and Carin Carr, current member of the Pasco County GOP and former member of the Broward GOP 2003-2004; Hernando —Mary Mazzuco, owner of Royal Coachman Homes and a member of the Hernando County GOP; and John Allocco, member of the Republican Business Council of Hernando County, Young Republicans of Hernando County and the Hernando GOP; and Pinellas — Barb Haselden, organizer of the Pinellas 912 Patriots.

Miami connections

Speaking of Cain's harassment allegation, we can't resist noting the connections to Miami-Dade that keep surfacing. One of the accusers, Karen Kraushaar, was spokeswoman for the Immigration and Naturalization Service during the Elian Gonzalez custody battle in late 1999 and early 2000.

Then there's Cain's campaign spokesman, J.D. Gordon, who as a Navy spokesman often handling Guantanamo Bay issues and filed a complaint against Miami Herald reporter Carole Rosenberg, telling the paper she had subjected him to "multiple incidents of abusive and degrading comments of an explicitly sexual nature." Nothing came of the complaint.

Follow Adam Smith on Twitter at AdamSmithTimes.

Winner of the week

Equality Florida. The gay rights group cheered a couple big wins in the past week: Political newcomer Michael Smith, who is gay, handily beat incumbent Largo City Commissioner Mary Gray Black in a campaign where she tried to make his sexual orientation an issue. And Broward became Florida's first county to require that large contractors offer their employees equal benefits for same-sex couples and married couples if they want county business.

Losers of the week

Adam Hasner, George LeMieux, Mike McCalister. They've been campaigning for the GOP Senate nomination for nearly a year. Suddenly, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV jumps into the race and thanks to his famous name, leads everybody else by more than 20 percentage points.

Connie Mack IV starts strong in U.S. Senate poll 11/12/11 [Last modified: Saturday, November 12, 2011 7:53pm]

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