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Poll: Scott approval relapses

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Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 05:18 PM

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's approval ratings, after improving over the last few months, have relapsed, leaving him vulnerable to almost any significant Democratic challenger, according to a Public Policy Polling survey.

In the poll, 31 percent of registered voters said they approve of Scott's performance in office, to 56 percent disapproval.

Scott's actions in initiating and pushing a recent purge of voter rolls aimed at non-citizens — which Democrats and voting rights activists say threatens to disenfranchise legitimate voters and is politically motivated — may have hurt his popularity, the poll suggested. Only 34 percent of those in the poll approved of the purge, and 50 percent disapproved.

In the poll, Democratic state Sen. Nan Rich of Weston, who's planning to run for governor in 2014, beat Scott 47-35 percent in a hypothetical general election matchup, even though only 14 percent of the voters said they knew enough about her to express a favorable or unfavorable opinion of her.

Public Policy Polling also found President Barack Obama holding onto a narrow lead over Mitt Romney in Florida, 50 percent to 46 percent.

Bush backs Mack in Senate primary

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Connie Mack IV has announced an endorsement by former Gov. Jeb Bush in the Republican primary.

It's the biggest prize yet in the endorsement battle between Mack and his leading opponent, George LeMieux, and a blow to the hopes of former congressman Dave Weldon, a new entry to the race.

In an announcement from the campaign, Bush called Mack a "principled conservative" and said he "has the courage, conservative values, experience and determination to confront the tough issues facing our nation."

Mack has led in the race with LeMieux for endorsements from major GOP political figures, winning backing from Mitt Romney; the American Conservative Union and its president, Al Cardenas; Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno; and most recently, Utah Sen. Mike Lee, a tea party favorite.

But LeMieux has grabbed his share of support, getting backing from some big names including 35 state legislators and another senator who represents the GOP's conservative wing, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma.

Lee, Burgin tout local backing

Tom Lee of Brandon, a former state Senate president, has released a list of endorsements from seven high-level local Republican leaders including former Gov. Bob Martinez in the East Hillsborough state Senate race.

Meanwhile, his opponent in the primary, Rep. Rachel Burgin, touts a list of more than 150 "grass-roots" backers, almost none of them prominent in politics.

The competing lists of backers illustrate Lee's dominant reputation in GOP politics in Republican-dominated East Hillsborough, compared to Burgin's strong suit, a large family with a network of connections in the area including church and home-schooling communities.

Lee's endorsers are almost a local GOP who's-who: former Gov. Bob Martinez, Rep. Gus Bilirakis of Palm Harbor, former legislator and Sheriff Malcolm Beard, Sheriff David Gee, Hillsborough County Commission Chairman Ken Hagan, County Commissioner Mark Sharpe, and county Tax Collector Doug Belden.

They emphasize his experience as a former Senate president.

"I've seen him deliver on behalf of our area as a strong supporter of local law enforcement officers and conservative causes," said Gee.

Josh Burgin, Rachel's brother and a campaign spokesman, said Burgin's backers are "folks that have a relationship to Rachel, largely through her extended family—obviously not your keynote political types, but folks who have relationships within their churches, their schools and businesses."

LeMieux blasts Mack on missing vote

George Lemieux is bashing his opponent in the GOP Senate primary, Rep. Connie Mack, for missing the vote on the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act, which aimed to ban abortions performed for purposes of sex selection.

"Mack's refusal to cast a vote, coupled with his votes to destroy human embryos, provides further evidence that Mack cannot be considered a pro-life candidate," LeMieux said in a news release, referring to Mack's position in favor of stem cell research.

Mack did not vote on the bill, H.R. 3541, when it came up on the House floor Thursday, according to the Thomas website.

The bill failed on a vote of 246 in favor and 168 against because it had been brought up under a suspension of House rules requiring a two-thirds majority.

Missed votes have become an issue for Mack after he missed many during the January presidential primary campaign, when he spent much of the month in Florida campaigning for Mitt Romney. He missed 43 percent of House votes during the first three months of the year.

Mack's wife, Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., voted against the bill.

David James of the Mack campaign responded.

"George's statement is false as Connie has a 100 percent rating from the National Right to Life.

"Connie Mack would have supported the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act but was campaigning for the needed change in the U.S. Senate in Miami, Aventura, Fort Myers, Winter Park, Indian River, Ponte Vedra and Orlando, where he spoke to packed houses about defeating liberal Senator Bill Nelson in order that legislation like the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act actually has a chance at becoming law."


wmarch@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7761
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