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Politics

GOP Senate Hopeful Connie Mack Gets the Backing of Financial Heavy Hitters

December 5, 2011 - 6:00pm
"ConnieU.S. Rep. Connie Mack | Credit: Gage Skidmore - Flickr

On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, who is running in a crowded Republican primary to challenge Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012, unveiled his finance team as the congressman continues his bid to win the seat that his father held for 12 years.

The outpouring of support this early in my campaign has been exciting and humbling, Mack said in a statement announcing his team. Having the support of these respected individuals from across the state gets us one step closer to defeating Bill Nelson and the Lockstep Liberals in Washington. Their help, support and guidance will be an important part of our successful campaign.

Macks committee contains some big-name Republicans, including Senate President Mike Haridopolos of Merritt Island who had endorsed Mack last month. Haridopolos had been a candidate in the race -- and had Macks support -- before pulling out. Having raised $3 million for his own bid, Haridopolos said in November that he intended to help Mack raise money for the Senate race.

Mack also reeled in the backing of one of the most influential Republicans on the First Coast -- state Sen. John Thrasher of Jacksonville. Thrasher, a former speaker of the Florida House, was also named to Macks finance steering committee. So was former Sen. Pat Neal, a prominent builder and businessman in Manatee County.

Other members of Macks committee that were named on Tuesday include Ambassador Francis Rooney, the former CEO of Rooney Holdings. Rooney, who served as ambassador to the Vatican under President George W. Bush, was a major contributor to Bush.

Mack also reeled in the backing of Joe Fogg, the chairman and CEO of Westbury Partners. Fogg is a longtime Republican activist who was national finance chairman for Bob Doles presidential bid in 1988, and Phil Gramms national vice chairman during that Texans bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 1996. More recently, Fogg was Florida finance chairman for Rudy Giulianis presidential bid in 2008.

Other members include First Coast attorney and lobbyist Marty Fiorentino; lobbyist Brian Ballard; and prominent businessman Lew Eisenberg, who served as national finance chairman for McCain/Palin Victory 2008. Fiorentino and Eisenberg had been behind former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.

Other Republican candidates include Hasner, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, businessman and retired Army officer Mike McCalister and restaurant executive Craig Miller.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859.

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