Presidential Race Overshadows Florida Primary
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (AP) - Republican Rep. Connie Mack IV was already looking beyond Tuesday's primary and on to a November matchup with Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson while Mack's longshot opponent was working the phone to try to reach as many people as possible to pull off an upset.
There was basically no public activity Monday in the only statewide race Tuesday, leaving Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's visit to Florida as the main event.
Mack is being challenged by former Rep. Dave Weldon, who got in the race late and has few resources to get out a statewide message. Nelson has a primary opponent, but he isn't well known.
So while Romney addressed a huge crowd in front of the national media in St. Augustine, and later planned a Miami rally, the primary was more about a few hotly contested congressional races, several dozen legislative races and local contests.
Mack, who is already accepting invitations to debate with Nelson, was raising money while Weldon was making phone calls to regional leaders, volunteers and Republican voters who haven't made up their mind yet.
Otherwise, perhaps the most talked about race was between Republican incumbent Reps. John Mica and Sandy Adams, who are running for the same central Florida seat after the once-a-decade redrawing of political maps.
In other races, four Republicans are competing to see who will face former Congressman Alan Grayson, who became known nationally after saying the Republican health care plan was to hope people die. The top candidates are lawyer Todd Long, businessman Julius Melendez, businessman Mark Oxner and John Quinones, a former state representative who now chairs the Osceola County Commission.
If history is any indication, turnout will be light. In 2008, when there were no statewide races, only 17.7 percent of Florida's voters cast a primary ballot. And even in 2010, only 22 percent of voters cast primary ballots even though there were competitive statewide races involving both major parties.
As of Friday afternoon, 871,154 Floridians had already cast a vote through absentee ballots or through early voting.
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