Golf carts are the transportation of choice in the laid-back, tiny Palm Harbor community of Ozona. So, when Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Connie Mack's big campaign bus rolled into town, it turned a lot of heads.
Mack has been on a statewide campaign tour that began right after his Oct. 17 debate in Fort Lauderdale with Democrat Bill Nelson, whom Mack is hoping to unseat. Mack currently represents Florida's 14th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Westchase.
"I think people see a real opportunity for change in Washington," Mack told the crowd as he stood on a stage set up in front of the Ozona Pig.
"I stand for a limited government, less taxes, less spending, less government, more freedom," Mack said. His father, Connie Mack III, who is a former Congressman and U.S. Senator, his mother Priscilla, his sister Debbie and other family members stood beside him on the stage.
"It's a very proud moment for me," Mack's father, Connie Mack III told Palm Harbor Patch later in the evening.
"I'm just so proud of what he's doing, what he stands for, the whole idea of less taxing, less spending, less government equals more freedom. One thing America needs today is more freedom and Connie's the guy that can deliver that message. I'm very proud of him," he said.
The campaign stop was a family affair from the beginning. Mack's sister Debbie is friends with Ozona Pig owners Bobbie and Chris Painter.
"I had told Debbie that I felt like we need a real grassroots effort. I was talking to our constituents who wanted to meet him and weren't familiar with his ideas and views. So we invited him to come to the Ozona Pig," said Bobbie Painter.
Longtime Palm Harbor residents Cynthia and Richard Harris showed up to hear Mack speak and have dinner at Ozona Pig. The couple have been in the commercial real estate business for more than a decade and are worried about the future of the country. Their business has felt the sting of the bad economy. They once had 11 employees; now it's just the two of them.
"We need fiscal responsibility in Washington. We've had six trillion in debt, we've had a total decline the past four and a half years. We're on our way toward being more like Greece unless we make some changes," said Cynthia Harris.
"One of my biggest concerns is the world currency reserve, which for decades the U.S. has been the standard. We're about to lose that. And if we lose that, it means that we're going to hit inflation and everything will be worth a lot less than it is now," said Richard Harris.
Mack will campaign throughout Florida up until election day on Nov. 6.
- U.S. Senate Race: 4 Questions for Connie Mack
- Palm Harbor Election Guide 2012