May 30, 2012 at 11:40 am
Jonathan Mattise, TCPalm
VERO BEACH — U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack IV told a Pointe West crowd Tuesday it’s time to elect conservative congressional members who aren’t just looking to compromise once they get to Washington.
And if Florida pencils in Mitt Romney for president and Mack for Senate, Mack predicts the GOP will regain the White House and Congress’ upper chamber.
“We need to send more Republicans — not just Republicans who are going to go along to get along — but Republicans who are going to stand up to Democrat leadership or Republican leadership,” said Mack, a sitting Republican congressman from Fort Myers.
“The state of Florida will be a critical state in November’s election. If Mitt Romney wins the state of Florida, Obama is a one-term president. If I win and beat Nelson, we get the majority in the United States Senate,” he said.
In front of the Indian River Tea Party’s open-to-the-public crowd of 107, the government-shrinking advocate also wasted little time getting in shots against incumbent Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. The most recent Quinnipiac poll names Mack the odds-on favorite to beat former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, tea party candidate Mike McCalister and former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon in an August primary. Weldon last filled Republican Rep. Bill Posey’s District 15 congressional seat, which includes Indian River County.
The Quinnipiac poll then gives Mack a 1-point edge in a November general election against Nelson. However, a rival NBC-Marist poll puts Nelson ahead by 4 points.
“(Nelson’s) at 41 percent. This is a guy who’s a two-term senator,” Mack said. “He’s more concerned about trying to eliminate the pythons in the Everglades than he is about trying to strengthen the economy.”
Nelson’s campaign responded that the election is still months away.
“Right now, Sen. Nelson’s just focused on doing his job. He’s always believed if you do that, the politics will take care of itself,” said campaign manager Christian Robinson.
Mack also ran through a laundry list of policy stances — he said he would vote to de-fund Planned Parenthood, talked up the Keystone Pipeline project, and pledged support to delete the act allowing the administration and federal agencies to make rules without Congress’ approval — the Administrative Procedures Act.
After the event, Mack also spoke about why the congressional earmark process was eliminated to give federal agencies the power to prioritize different projects’ funding. U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney, R-Tequesta, has critiqued the change, pointing out that the federally authorized St. Lucie Inlet dredging long went unaddressed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Martin County and state taxpayers just had to pay for a $9 million dredging that wrapped up late last month.
“I think the earmark process in Washington was abused. And so, there was a number of us who said we’ve got to stop this practice,” Mack said. “So the funding is still available, it’s just not earmarked to specific projects. It’s run through the Army Corps, or other organizations like that. … You just have to remember the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ to know it was an abused process.”