Former seven-term Congressman Dave Weldon, a staunch social conservative, is going to need some divine intervention in today’s Florida primary for U.S. Senate. Most pollsters have stopped surveying his race, with presumptive GOP nominee Connie Mack IV holding at least a 30% lead.
Despite the long-odds, and having been outspent by a huge margin, Weldon kept up his campaign’s hectic pace right down to the wire.
In mid-July, he got a boost when the Tampa Bay Times, the state’s largest newspaper, backed him over Mack: “The field weeded itself out, with the most promising possibilities never getting in the race and the others giving up or leaving for safer races. U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV of Fort Myers has the famous name, the endorsements, the PAC money — and questionable work habits, a sense of entitlement and an undistinguished record in Congress. Former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon of Indialantic is a long shot, but he has more experience in Congress, a stronger record of accomplishments and a reputation as a more serious-minded lawmaker.”
Throughout the course of the campaign, Mack has repeatedly refused to debate Weldon, choosing to focus his fire entirely on incumbent Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
Complicating matters for Weldon is the presence of Col. Mike McCalister, a mostly unknown figure whose military records have come under some scrutiny, but who has captured the attention of a few in the far-right tea party crowd. McCalister ran a no-budget campaign for Governor in 2010, winning 10% of the vote largely as a reaction to the highly negative contest between Bill McCollum and Rick Scott. This time around, he hopes to be the “conservative alternative” to the front-running Mack.
While Weldon should perform well in Space Coast, his political home base, it could be a struggle for Weldon to outshine the far less substantial McCalister in areas where both men are largely unknown.
Voting will continue until 7pm this evening, and results in this and other Florida races should be available by early evening.