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Saturday, December 11, 2004

US Senate 2006: Florida Run-Down

Posted by Tim Tagaris

There is a big target on Senator Bill Nelson's back in a bid to retain his U.S. Senate seat in 2006.  With the election of Mel Martinez last month, Nelson is the only statewide seat held by a Democrat in  Florida. That's the main reason Republicans are salivating at the prospect of running the table.

It's not that Nelson is a weak candidate, quite the contrary.  But in a state trending decidedly red, and a slew of "quality" Republican candidates, GOPers certainly see this seat as a high-profile pick-up chance in 2006.  This is what is meant when you hear people talk about a "deep bench."

In 2000, Nelson claimed his first term as a U.S. Senator garnering an uninspiring 52% of the vote against U.S. Representative Bill McCollum.

As we all know, George Bush carried Florida

in 2004 with 52% as well.

What we know so far:

Jeb Bush is out. Thankfully the term-limited Governor has declared he would not attempt a Senate run.  While it would give us all the warm fuzzies to beat down the President's brother, we might just have to wait until he himself makes a run at the White House.

Speculation: The sharks circle below the jump...

Candidate #1 United States Representative Katherine Harris:

Can you cast a better foil for the Democrats?  Well, it didn't work in 2002 or 2004.  But in a world where vote stealing is rewarded with a promotion to Congress, we just might get another chance in 2 years. And we will, cause she is running.

U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris' name is among the first off every political watcher's lips when sizing up the 2006 field of potential Nelson foes. Much of that is a result of her own toying with the media in early 2004 about running for the Senate this year.

Harris, a Longboat Key Republican, eventually backed off but said she would run for the Senate some day. She continues to be coy about her future, saying only that she has options in 2006.

I would wager that her not running in 2004 had something to do with not wanting to bring the results of 2000 back into the forefront.  Who knew defrauding democracy could be rewarded so quickly.

Candidate #2 United States Representative Mark Foley:

Foley is the Congressman from the 16th CD of Florida; which is in the South Central part of the state if you needed some imagery.  It includes the West and Northern borders of Lake Okeechobee.  You can find the map HERE.

He won his 2004 House race with 68% of the vote against now (in)famous Jeff Fisher. As for the Senate in 2006, the Herald Tribune has the skinny:

Foley, who has been in Congress since 1994, already has more than $2 million in his campaign account, putting him in a strong financial position to jump in the race.

Candidate #3 United States Representative Dave Weldon:

Here is a press piece from today about Weldon that might get the blood pumping of choice advocates.

The author of the anti-abortion amendment, Rep. Dave Weldon, R-Florida, said he is trying to preserve traditional American Values.

"Just as many of my constituents, I am concerned about the assaults on married couples, families, the unborn, and those of religious faith," said Weldon. "I will continue working to defend laws that reflect the values of the American people."

That's this years, the newest, anti-choice amendment that was included in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill.  The same provision that Barbara Boxer was promised by Bill Frist a hearing on the floor to take place early next session.

I would tell you more, especially about economic positions, but he failed to fill out his Project Vote Smart NPAT.

However, his campaign issue webpage is filled with tons of information as well, and would be a great place for further research on Representative Weldon.

Candidate #4 United States Representaive-Elect Connie Mack IV:

Mack served in the Florida State House of Representatives for four years before being elected to the U.S. House for the first time this November. However name recognition and a popular family goes a long way in Florida; as the article below notes.

The Herald Tribune breaks it down again.

Although the younger Mack is starting his first term in Congress, his name recognition helps make him a potential challenger, many Republican insiders say.

The only thing I remember about Connie Mack IV was when he pushed for state taxes in Florida while a member of the state legislature.  Only problem, Florida doesn't have a state income tax.

Other names on the short-list include:

Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist

Lt. Governor Toni Jennings

State Senator Daniel Webster

State CFO Tom Gallagher

It's important to remember that there is also a Gubernatorial race in Florida

this year as well. With the names mentioned above as "other names," most of the speculation is that they would run for Governor. their resumes indicate they would be better suited to challenge for that seat as well.

As time goes by and the backroom dealings that are certainly underway continue, I wouldn't be shocked to see one or more of the names above make a run for the Governor's mansion.  Over the course of time, the field will settle -- some of these names will probably challenge Nelson, others make a run for Governor.  The last thing the Republicans want is a bitterly contested primary in an expensive state.  Hopefully they'll get just that.

Betty Castor sure is acting like someone about to attempt another state-wide run as a Gubernatorial candidate for the Dems. She just started her own Political Action Committee that will allow her to have a voice in state-wide affairs over the next few years.


There is also one Libertarian who has voiced his intention to run for the Senate seat.  At the very least candidate Karl Dickey is having meetups.

Posted at 05:40 PM in Florida | Technorati


Gotta win this one. A state that balanced shouldn't be all Dems. After all, we have a Democratic Senator from ND and a Governor in Montana.

Posted by: Dan Hogan at December 13, 2004 02:19 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Check this for a complete rundown:


Posted by: AnthonySF at December 13, 2004 04:25 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I don't know if I've posted this before. The site referenced above is a really nice site. I'd like to see similar ones for Gov and even competitive House races.

Posted by: Dan Hogan at December 13, 2004 06:10 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

Betty Castor or Bob Graham are my choices for Governor. Castor barely lost to Mel Martinez so she certainly has a realistic chance of winning the governor's race. Graham would be a lock but I don't if he'd come out of retirement. Nelson is a lock to win re-election.

Posted by: Mark at December 16, 2004 12:41 PM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment

I think Bob Graham is still term-limited, thus preventing him from re-seeking the Governor's office (Bob was a two-term FL governor from 1978-1986). I agree, however, that Castor would make an excellent candidate for governor.

Does anyone know anything about Nelson's campaign organization? If he hasn't already done so, I imagine he's scrambling to pick up some of the recently-unemployed national talent.

Posted by: Jason at December 19, 2004 11:34 AM | Permalink | Edit Comment | Delete Comment