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Mack, MacKay In Tight Senate Battle

November 7, 1988

MIAMI (AP) _ Republican Rep. Connie Mack III pinned his hopes on George Bush’s coattails as he battled for Florida’s open U.S. Senate seat against Democratic Rep. Kenneth ″Buddy″ MacKay.

Polls indicated the race between the moderate Democrat and the conservative Republican was too close to call, and Mack tried to capitalize on the presidential race with two commercials featuring Bush and a third tying MacKay to Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis.

The two were competing for the seat being relinquished by three-term Democratic Sen. Lawton Chiles.

Bush’s lead for Florida’s 21 electoral votes was so whopping in the final weeks that state Democratic Party officials worried the presidential race could boost Mack. Polls indicated Bush in early October had a 25-point lead over Dukakis and was poised to win Florida for the Republicans for the eighth time in the last 10 presidential elections.

Floridians also had 11 constitutional amendments to consider, including a measure that would mandate English as the state’s official language.

Mack, 48, and a member of the Conservative Opportunity Society led in Congress by Georgia’s Rep. Newt Gingrich, taunted MacKay, 55, with commercials that said: ″Hey Buddy, You’re Liberal 3/8″

MacKay called himself a southern moderate Democrat in the mode of Georgia Sen. Sam Nunn, Tennessee Sen. Al Gore and Florida’s Chiles and Bob Graham, all of them campaigning in Florida with him. Graham, who unseated Republican Sen. Paula Hawkins in 1986, called Mack ″an ideological wacko.″

Mack had raised $4.5 million to MacKay’s $2.8 million with three weeks left before election. But Mack had spent nearly all of his money, including on commercials in June that featured footage about his grandfather and namesake, a Baseball Hall of Fame manager.

The 12-7 Democratic advantage in the Florida congressional delegation was expected to hold.

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