"It’s clear the race for the U.S. Senate in Florida is now between Connie Mack, the Republican, and Bill Nelson, the Democrat," wrote Jeff Cohen to Times Managing Editor Jeanne Grinstead.
According to Cohen, "A primary debate among Republicans would only serve to benefit Bill Nelson," and a debate between Mack and Nelson "makes all the sense in the world."
It certainly does, since a new survey shows that if the election was held next week, Nelson would handily defeat Mack at the polls.
That same Public Policy Polling survey shows Mack dominating the GOP race, leading his closest competitor — former interim U.S. Senator George LeMieux — by a 34-13 percent margin, which is no doubt fueling what some will perceive as Mack's arrogance in not needing to waste his time debating fellow Republicans.
It's highly doubtful that the Times and Bay News 9 will honor Mack's request to host a mano-a-mano confrontation between what appears to be the likely candidates in November before they win a primary, though there are no rules against it.
The fact is, if Mack's camp doesn't think the race is competitive, that attitude is likely to rub off on his supporters, who currently like the candidate based on the name associate with the former U.S. Senator (the current candidate's dad), or the guy who used to manage the Philadelphia A's for a long time (that would be the former Senator's grandfather).
Then again, if GOP voters could watch Mack debate LeMieux, Mike McCallister and former Congressman Dave Weldon, they might like one of the other nominees more than they guy they're supporting because of his genealogy. Maybe, maybe not.
Or the three challengers could see their own admittedly less than robust chances of getting the nomination soar as they debate each other on July 26. The point is, Mack appears not to be a team player for the Republican Party of Florida, despite not even being the nominee at this point.
One would think that after reviewing the PPP poll (which his supporters will point out was done by a Democratic-leaning firm) that shows him losing to Senator Nelson 49-36 percent in a potential match-up, Mack would be eager to get in front of a statewide prime time audience and begin boosting his bona fides with independents and conservative Democrats who more than ready to kick Nelson out of office after 40 years in various seats. Again, maybe, maybe not.
The PPP survey also finds that among all voters more people find Mack unappealing then like him (19 percent favorable, 27 unfavorable). That's much weaker than what Floridians polled think of the 69-year-old Nelson, whose favorable to unfavorable rating stands at 39-31 percent.
Two polls released last month show a much closer race between Nelson and Mack. Quinnipiac had them in a tie, while Marist/NBC News showed Nelson up by four points.