- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 12, 2004

Five candidates are vying for the House seat being vacated by Republican Rep. Porter J. Goss, who has been nominated by President Bush to head the CIA.

Among the group are four Republicans scrambling to be the party nominee for the Nov. 2 general election: Lee County Commissioner Andy Coy, former state Rep. Connie Mack IV, state Rep. Carole Green and cardiologist Frank Schwerin. But party officials say the seat is a guaranteed victory.

“It is a district that went for [President] Bush by 22 points, and there is no credible opposition, that is as close as we get to a lock,” said Bo Harmon, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Mr. Mack, 36, has major name recognition in the state as the son of former Sen. Connie Mack III of Florida. He is also the great-grandson of baseball legend Connie Mack (a.k.a. Cornelius McGillicuddy), the family patriarch, who founded the Philadelphia Athletics, now the Oakland A’s.

Joseph Agostini, a spokes-man for the Florida Republican Party, said the state party is not taking sides in the primary, but added, “When one looks at a candidate like Connie Mack, with that name recognition, it really puts that candidate in a good position.”

“And we’re confident the Republicans will make gains all throughout the state, and we also have the Senate seat open as well,” Mr. Agostini said, referring to the retirement of Democratic Sen. Bob Graham.

Mr. Goss, who announced his retirement from Congress earlier this year after serving eight terms in Florida’s 14th District, was nominated by Mr. Bush on Tuesday to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

The seat is not being highly contested by the Democrats. The state party only put up one candidate, Robert Neeld, an accountant who has little in the way of campaign cash.

Regardless of who wins the Aug. 31 primary, if Mr. Goss is confirmed by the Senate before the November election, the seat will remain vacant until the January inauguration. Ordinarily when congressional seats are vacated, there are special elections to quickly fill the position.

“Until the Senate confirms [Mr. Goss], he will retain his seat, and no action will be taken,” said Jenny Nash, spokeswoman for the Florida Secretary of State’s Office, adding that the cost to have a special election to fill the seat for only a short time would be a waste of money.

The primary will take place the same week as the Republican National Convention, which convenes in New York later this month.

According to the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Mack’s $1.25 million war chest is nearly double the combined intake of his three challengers — and the $439,000 he raised in the second quarter is more than the money raised overall, $431,000, by his closest challenger, Mrs. Green.


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