Husband of Sonny Bono’s Widow Announces Run for U.S. Senate in Florida

Reps. Mack IV and Bono Mack

Reps. Mack IV and Bono Mack

Or at least that’s how this development in Florida looks from California. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., is married to Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R.-Calif..

Rep. Bono Mack is the widow of Sonny Bono of Sonny and Cher fame, which also makes her Chaz Bono’s stepmother. She represents California’s 36th District, which includes Palm Springs — a demographically odd stew of gays, Republican retirees, gay Republican retirees and, increasingly, Democrats. (And, for the benefit of non-Floridians, Connie Mack is a guy. His real name is Cornelius McGillicuddy IV.)

The story has a much different profile in Florida, of course. The most crucial difference is that the name Connie Mack is extremely well known there. Connie Mack’s great-grandfather, Connie Mack I, was a famous sports figure and his father, Connie Mack III, was a two-term Republican U.S. senator.

Here’s how the Orlando Sentinel, a newspaper that is notoriously in the bag for the GOP, reports Mack IV’s entry into the race:

The decision by U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV to follow in the footsteps of his father and run for U.S. Senate could throw a jolt into what’s been a lackluster battle of Republicans looking to challenge two-term U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida.

A big reason: name recognition.

Mack, who represents southwest Florida, shares a name with both his father, who served in the U.S. Senate for 12 years until 2001, and his great-grandfather Connie Mack, a baseball Hall of Fame catcher and manager.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he [Mack] takes the lead immediately because of name identification from his dad. I think he becomes the candidate to beat now,” said John Dowless, a Republican political consultant based in Orlando.

Compared to the rest of the field — which remains unknown to more than half the GOP electorate, according to polls — Mack, 44, is a well-known commodity. A former state legislator now in his fourth U.S. House term, he is the only sitting officeholder in the top-tier GOP field.

The front-runners — former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner — have been out of office for months or years. Two others — former Ruth’s Chris CEO Craig Miller and Plant City businessman Mike McCalister — have never held office.

That gives Mack a powerful — and oftentimes free — microphone to promote an agenda, such as the “Mack Penny Plan” that he introduced in May that aims to balance the federal budget in part by annual spending cuts of 1 percent for six years.

Incumbency also helps with fundraising, and Mack will need to raise cash quickly.

It’s going to be a busy year for the Bono-Mack household. Rep. Bono Mack is one of five California Republicans who are considered vulnerable next year. A recent poll found that she only has a 43 percent approval rating in her increasingly Democratic district.

2 Responses »

  1. Trish Ponder October 29, 2011 @ 6:11 am

    Here is another good analysis of the race, and of Mack’s chances, but I think they’re wrong about immigration being a problem. Florida is more like Texas in that respect, and way less like Arizona.

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/analysis-why-connie-macks-senate-candidacy-may-be-game-changer-not/1198877

  2. Jon October 29, 2011 @ 9:28 am

    It’s a pleasant surprise, a mild shock even, to learn that Nelson is leading in most polls at this early point.

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