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Previewing the Florida GOP Senate Primary Previewing the Florida GOP Senate Primary

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Previewing the Florida GOP Senate Primary

The revolving door of GOP candidates made for a strange primary campaign, but one that ultimately benefited Mack's candidacy. He suffered relatively little damage at the hands of his GOP opponents: None of them ran any television ads and Mack didn't participate in any primary debates. Unlike Mitt Romney, Mack escaped the primary campaign without having to move too far to the right on any hot-button issues like immigration. But Mack has generated his fair share of bad press since launching his bid. A series of stories in Florida's biggest newspapers highlighted his checkered past, from youthful bar fights to details of his divorce and financial problems. When Nelson's campaign released its second television ad earlier this month, the senator took direct aim at Mack's dirty laundry. Before releasing his first two television spots, Nelson's campaign had remained mostly under the radar. But he stockpiled a huge campaign warchest, finishing June with $11 million in the bank. By comparison, Mack had $1.35 million cash on hand at the end of June. While the money difference appears potentially devastating, outside conservative groups have pledged to spend on Mack's behalf in an effort to keep the race on the table for Republicans. American Crossroads has pledged to spend more than $6 million on the race, and casino mogul Sheldon Adelson has already given more than $1 million to a pro-Mack super PAC. While the outside money should keep him afloat, Mack's campaign has another problem to deal with now that Paul Ryan has been chosen as Romney's running mate. Down-ballot Republicans throughout the country are going to have to answer for Ryan's controversial Medicare proposals, and the issue may be more toxic in senior-rich Florida than any other state in the country. Mack has avoided linking himself to Ryan in the past, but the House Budget chairman's spot on the presidential ticket makes the issue more complicated. Mack served as one of Romney's top surrogates in Florida during the lead-up to the state's crucial presidential primary. Having thrown his support so fully behind Romney's candidacy, it could prove difficult for Mack to separate himself from the controversial policies espoused by Romney's new running mate. Tuesday marks the end of a relatively easy primary fight for Mack. With a fundraising disadvantage and a debate over the future of Medicare looming on the general election horizon, a difficult campaign lies ahead.

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