Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., is beginning to look like a serious candidate to try to unseat Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson in his bid for a third term in 2012, Politico rep
orts. Mack already has begun laying the groundwork for a possible Senate bid by writing op-eds attacking Nelson’s liberal voting record, sending out fundraising letters and beefing up his staff.
Mack hasn’t officially declared his plans, however, saying only that he plans to fulfill his fourth term representing Florida's 14th Congressional District. But as Politico noted, “he's made several staffing hires over the past six months designed to amp up his political operation,” adding that “ramping up quickly may be a necessity considering the many moving parts in the race for the GOP nomination."
David James, a senior adviser to Mack, told News-Press.com that Mack has already hired a new chief of staff, Hans Klingler, who has worked on several senatorial bids during his 25 years as a political operative.
Others joining the Mack effort include legislative director Galen Roehl, who worked for Kansas Governor-elect Sam Brownback when Brownback was a senator, and veteran political consultant Arthur Finkelstein, who worked for Mack's father during his days in as a senator.
Nelson reportedly has almost $3 million put away for a potential Senate campaign, more than his potential rivals combined. Others who may consider challenging Nelson in 2012 include outgoing Republican Sen. George LeMieux and new state Senate President Mike Haridopolos.
Mack’s senatorial ambitions began taking shape early in the 2012 political season. In an interview with RealClearPolitics in December, he gave several hints he may challenge the incumbent Nelson.
"We're seeing a different Bill Nelson now than we've seen over the last 12 years," Mack said of the two-term senator, adding he vehemently opposes Nelson’s big-government agenda. "I don't have any timelines or any of those types of preconceived notions" about running for the U.S. Senate in 2012, he added.
"We're just going to continue to hold Bill Nelson accountable and fight for freedom. We'll worry about that decision on a U.S. Senate race down the road."
Mack’s other political outreach efforts include a letter written by Jorge Arrizurieta, who worked for both President George W. Bush and former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Politico reports. In it, Arrizurieta talks about fundraising for a potential Senate bid by Mack.
"I want to start a dialogue with you and Congressman Mack very soon about developing the financial resources needed to mount a serious and winning campaign against Bill Nelson," Arrizurieta wrote.
"I can tell you Congressman Connie Mack has shown for years to have the same courage and strength to stand up for conservative principles that his father, Senator Mack, so ably demonstrated throughout his years in Washington.” Arrizurieta added: “I am convinced Congressman Connie Mack is the ideal candidate this time."
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