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Don’t forget Senate race during presidential process

Published: Monday, January 16, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 02:01


As the race for the presidential nominee narrows, Florida has positioned itself to be a driving force — hosting the Republican National Convention in August and even sacrificing delegate votes to push up the Florida primaries for better exposure.

Yet in the midst of presidential pomp and circumstance and the push to either defend or oust President Barack Obama, another battle may be slipping through Florida voters' fingers — the fight for Democrat incumbent Bill Nelson's Senate seat. 

According to the Associated Press, Republican senatorial candidates have been milling the grounds of the Republican Party of Florida's annual meeting in search of support and attempting to reach voters who are preoccupied.

"The focus is on the presidential (nomination) until the party decides who our Republican nominee will be, but that's going to be soon," former Sen. George LeMieux said to the AP. "Florida will decide the race. After that, starting in February, I think all eyes will turn to the Senate race. This Senate race is so important. It's so important to take back the Senate. When they start to focus on the race, the more they learn about the candidates, the better we're going to do." 

Florida Democrats need to divert attention from Obama's re-election campaign and follow the Senate race as well. If former state Rep. Adam Hasner was right when he told the AP, "Bill Nelson has supported the Obama administration 98 percent of the time," Obama's followers must make sure he retains his support in the Senate.

A Quinnipiac University poll released last week shows that both the senatorial and presidential races are "too close to call" for Florida voters. According to the poll, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney would steal 46 percent of the state's support while Obama would retain 43 percent of votes. 

The Senate race is even closer, with Nelson scoring 41 percent while Rep. Connie Mack leads the Republican contenders with 40 percent. Yet 54 percent of voters said they "don't know enough about" Mack to have an opinion.

This is after Mack raised $758,000 in the fourth quarter of his campaign, according to the Tampa Bay Times, and has $918,000 cash "on hand due to money he transferred from a previous re-election account." Though LeMieux, Nelson and Hasner haven't yet released their fourth-quarter fundraising numbers, Hasner raised $535,000 in the third quarter and LeMieux's top quarter brought in $951,000, according to The Palm Beach Post blog

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