The Florida Senate race, between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Rep. Connie Mack IV, really is shaping up to be among the dirtier races of the 2012 cycle. The latest subject of the back and forth attacks: Bar fights.
Nelson came out with a new ad Thursday, laying out various items of personal dirt on Mack. One of them was a reference to an altercation Mack got into in 1992, at age 24, with then-Atlanta Braves outfielder Ron Gant.
“Florida, meet Connie Mack IV,” the announcer says. “A promoter for Hooter’s, with a history of barroom brawling, altercations and road rage. A big spender, with a trail of debts, liens, and unpaid bills. He has one of the worst attendance records in Congress this year — but he still voted to end Medicare as we know it. Questionable work habits, a sense of entitlement — Connie Mack, he thinks the rules are different for him.”
The NRSC responded with a press release Friday — in which executive director Rob Jesmer brought up a different bar fight that once involved Nelson’s son:
“It is disappointing that 40-year politician Bill Nelson would use an event that took place in his opponent’s personal life 20 years ago to distract from his own abysmal record. Such an attack is particularly surprising, considering that Nelson’s own son was recently arrested for both disorderly intoxication and assaulting a police officer. Senator Nelson, perhaps more than most people, should recognize that his attempt to leverage a person’s youthful mistakes for his own political advantage is shameful.
The link in that press release, of a “recent” arrest of Bill Nelson Jr., actually goes back to 2006, and an incident that occurred at the elder Nelson’s victory party from his re-election that year.
Nelson’s campaign manager Pete Mitchell shot back.
“All his life, Connie Mack IV has made excuses for his behavior and tried to blame others. Its time he took responsibility for himself,” Mitchell said in a statement given to TPM. “Bill Nelson’s son isn’t running for the Senate. Connie Mack is. After hiding behind nearly $10 million in negative attacks against Bill Nelson, Mack’s long history of irresponsible behavior and his record in office is now in the spotlight. And it isn’t a pretty picture.”
The PollTracker Average currently gives Nelson a narrow edge with 44.7 percent, compared to Mack’s 43.6 percent.