Months ahead of voting day, Rep. Connie Mack (R-Fla.) has effectively declared the Republican U.S. Senate primary over, declining an invitation to participate in a televised debate with his opponent George LeMieux.
"It’s clear the race for the U.S. Senate in Florida is now between Connie Mack, the Republican, and Bill Nelson, the Democrat," Mack's campaign manager Jeff Cohen wrote in a letter to the Tampa Bay Times. "A primary debate among Republicans would only serve to benefit Bill Nelson," Cohen wrote, adding it "makes all the sense in the world" for Mack to start debating Nelson.
Nelson's office did not immediately respond to a phone call for comment.
The Times sought to schedule the statewide televised debate for late July, but Mack -- who has faced attacks from LeMieux over his character and credentials -- may not want to risk his sizable lead in the polls.
That approach hasn't sat well with LeMieux.
"It's emblematic of his entire campaign -- he wants to hide from me, and he wants to be coronated," LeMieux told the Tampa Tribune.
Former state Attorney General Bill McCollum, a supporter of Mack, questioned the decision as well.
"I personally always believe candidates should participate in debates, but this is the campaign's choice, not mine or anyone else's," McCollum said. "My view is that candidates should participate as fully as possible in public debates."
The primary will take place on August 14.
10 more election stories from beyond the presidential field:
Candidate Refuses To Say Whether He'd Wear A Tie If Elected To Congress [NYDailynews.com]
George Allen: Upcoming Election Is 'Rendezvous With Destiny' [WoodbridgePatch.com]
Josh Mandel, Sherrod Brown Raise More Dollars Than You May Have Known [The Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Pete Stark's Days In Congress May Be Numbered [The San Francisco Chronicle]
Frank Guinta's Wife Resigns Post At Catholic Medical Center [Union Leader]
Ben Quayle's Daughter Evie Stars In First TV Ad [AZCentral.com]
Angus King Leading The Independent Charge [Seacoastonline.com]
Karl Rove To Campaign For Former Rep. Shays In Conn. [The Hill]
Republicans Pick Write-In Replacement For McCotter [The Detroit News]
Republican Eyes Congress After 10 Years In Maine Legislature [Morning Sentinel]
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