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GOP Senate Hopeful Mike McCalister Plays Up Experience in His Bid to Challenge Bill Nelson

July 30, 2012 - 6:00pm

As he seeks the Republican nomination to challenge Democrat incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in November, Mike McCalister hopes that voters will compare his background and experience to other GOP hopefuls in the primary in less than two weeks.

Were hiring people to do a job, McCalister told Sunshine State News. Insisting that he is well-poised to handle the constitutional duties assigned to the Senate, McCalister believes his background has prepared him for higher service.

McCalister raised some eyebrows when he took more than 10 percent in the Republican gubernatorial primary in 2010. While he finished far behind Rick Scott and then-Attorney General Bill McCollum, McCalister did not have the campaign funds or the media buys of the other two Republican candidates.

Since then, McCalister has been working the grassroots as he presents his case on why he should be the Republican nominee in the Fall. McCalisters background includes more than three decades in the National Guard, the Army Reserves and serving on active duty. He eventually rose to become a colonel. He also has been a business owner and an educator, teaching graduate courses on a number of subjects. McCalister told Sunshine State News that his background can help him serve on several of the committees in the U.S. Senate as he has experience in agriculture, international issues, the military, veterans affairs, trade and small-business issues.

On the stump, McCalister touches on a number of subjects, ranging from international security to expanding manufacturing in America, and he is unapologetic about his focus on the issues.

Were in the race to bring awareness of the critical issues facing Americans, he said.

McCalister is far behind U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., in fund raising. While Mack had around $1.35 million in the bank on June 30, McCalister had more than $74,000 -- not too far behind former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon who entered the race late and had almost $79,000 at that time.

Despite that disadvantage, McCalister insisted to Sunshine State News that his campaign is expanding our base from 2010 and there are other factors besides fundraising in the primary on Aug. 14.

People really need to have a wake-up call, McCalister said. Theyre not going to beat Bill Nelson with more money.

While he did not mention Mack, who has avoided debates with the other Republican Senate hopefuls, McCalister said the GOP needs to turn to a candidate who can hold his own against Nelson.

We better put up somebody against Bill Nelson who can beat him in the debates, McCalister said.

Reach Kevin Derby at or at (850) 727-0859.

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