Fla. Sen: Connie Mack rising, Rubio steady

If Floridians enjoy being the center of attention – an argument supported by their frequently shifting primary date rumors – they’re certainly achieving their goals. We’ve already grown used to their status as an influential, “will they or won’t they” swing state, holding on to 27 electoral votes. But it’s not just presidential politics where the Sunshine State is causing a lot of chatter. Both of their senators have been in the news lately.

Bill Nelson, the only Democrat currently holding state-wide office, is widely viewed as being in trouble. This is a problem compounded by President Obama’s dismal approval numbers there, leading Nelson to hint that he might not even campaign with Obama next year. Sensing an opportunity, Republicans are lining up for a chance at the seat and one of the early front runners is a man with a familiar name for many reasons.

Congressman Connie Mack is blowing away the Republican competition and is in the best shape to best Sen. Bill Nelson, the only Democrat elected to statewide office in Florida.

Congressman Connie Mack’s entrance into Florida’s moribund Senate race has propelled him into instant-frontrunner status in the Republican field and threatens incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, according to a new poll.

Mack garners 32 percent of the theoretical vote while his fellow Republicans are polling in the single digits, the Quinnipiac University poll shows. In a general-election matchup, Mack would get 40 percent of the vote and Nelson 42 percent.

That’s a fairly impressive early showing for a man who has no Senate campaign committee and hasn’t even announced that he’s running for the seat. As the Miami Herald article notes, however, the congressman has the benefit of significant name recognition – always important in politics – because of his family ties. His father was a well liked Florida senator and his grandfather is a sports legend. Mack has also remained refreshingly free of any sort of scandal. (Unless you count marrying Sonny Bono’s widow as a down twinkles sort of thing.)

Florida’s other senator has been in the news lately as well. Marco Rubio was the subject of various bits of birther nonsense of late, along with questions about how “authentic” we should find the story of his parents’ flight from Cuba. Has this begun dragging down his numbers? Apparently… not so much.

“Questions regarding U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s comments about when his family emigrated from Cuba have had almost no effect on his job approval rating,” a press release about the poll said. “He receives a 49 – 29 percent score, no change from the 49 – 31 percent thumbs up September 21.”

With numbers like that, the poll is likely to silence talk among some pundits that Rubio wouldn’t be a good vice-presidential pick to help win Florida. But the fate of Democrats looks so dim right now, that Rubio might not be needed.

It’s still far, far too early to speculate whether or not Rubio will be the veep pick – particularly since we have no clue who the nominee will be – but if he’s content to remain in the Senate for the time being, it looks like he doesn’t have much to worry about. Ah… Florida. You’re always good for a story each and every election cycle. And for that… we thank you.