by Javier Manjarres
Florida’s Republican U.S. Senate Primary, much like the 2012 Republican Presidential race has no clear front runner at his juncture. The GOP candidates in the race- Adam Hasner, Mike Haridopolos, Mike McCallister and George LeMieux are facing a much different campaign dynamic than did now Senator Marco Rubio, While Rubio was a virtual unknown across the state at the beginning of his campaign, he soon established himself as the Primary’s unrivaled standard bearer for conservatives. Today, even as all four of the Senatorial candidates zig-zag across the state meeting and greeting voters to increase their name recognition and support, it seems that none of the candidates are generating a similar buzz like Rubio did early on in his campaign.
One somewhat annoying habit that all of the candidates are guilty of to a greater or lesser extent is that each of them makes it a point to invoke the name of “Senator Rubio” during their appearances in the hopes that the name-dropping will help out their candidacies. Many observers of Florida Politics, including myself, predict a very negative Republican primary that may not produce clear and decisive winner. Senator LeMieux recently asserted that he is the only candidate in the race that can actually beat Senator Bill Nelson, and that he has the conservative bona fides to prove it.
Recently, the Hasner campaign took a few public shots at both LeMieux and Hardiopolos, and Hasner seems to have had an advantage of late in terms of media activity. In terms of money and fundraising, Haridopolos is currently considered to be the top pooch in the race, with LeMieux right behind him. While the inevitable comparisons to Marco Rubio will continue throughout the campaign for all of these candidates, the ultimate winner is going to have clearly step up and differentiate themselves as the most electable candidate who can defeat Bill Nelson, otherwise, we will see a primary result with the winner likely receiving no more than 35 percent in the primary- not the most inspiring number to take into the general election against Nelson and Organizing for America.