Rep. Connie Mack was the big winner over former Rep. (1994-2008) Dave Weldon in the Republican Senate primary. The namesake-son of the beloved former senator (1988-2000), young Mack is now sure to be locked in a close race this fall against two-term Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
In the new 7th District, 20-year Rep. and outgoing House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica won 61 percent of the vote against freshman Rep. Sandy Adams. Mica (lifetime American Conservative Union rating: 94.07 percent) outspent Adams (lifetime ACU rating: 88 percent) by a big margin to secure nomination in the safely Republican Orlando-based district in which they both resided. Mica has a long record of bringing federally-funded projects in the district and was a major player in passage of the recent transportation bill.
In contrast, Adams, who had opposed lifting the debt ceiling, was the favorite of most of the area tea partiers, as well as national conservative groups and of former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin.
As much as the trend in primaries this year has been more toward candidates of Adams‚?? style and record, the triumph of the 69-year-old Mica served as a reminder that, in at least some races, voters still do like a congressman who ‚??brings home the bacon.‚?Ě
But tea partiers and conservative activists could at least say they scored major victories in GOP primaries in two other congressional districts. In the newly-carved 6th District, attorney and U.S. Navy veteran Ron DeSantis scored a big win over two office-holders. A political newcomer and first-time candidate, DeSantis had the support of Reagan administration alumni such as former Attorney General Ed Meese as well as the Club for Growth, which spent more than $82,000 on his behalf.
In the 19th District (Lee County) that Mack is leaving, the congressman‚??s family one-upped that of his predecessor. Tray Radel, popular radio talk-show host and former TV newscaster, ran with the backing of Mack and topped a six-candidate GOP primary. Among those beaten by Radel was Chauncey Goss, son of former Rep. (1988-2006) Porter Goss, and himself a former staffer on the House Budget Committee under Chairman Paul Ryan (who had endorsed and campaigned for the younger Goss before being tapped as Mitt Romney‚??s running mate last week). Goss also had the backing of former Gov. Jeb Bush.
Goss, and two well-funded state legislators, Paige Kreegel and Gary Aubuchon,were formidable candidates. But they weren‚??t formidable enough to stop Radel, who had a strong following on the right and ‚??celebrity‚?Ě stature.