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Five GOP hopefuls make Mack succession a dogfight

By Staff | Nov 7, 2011

Five GOP hopefuls, including a Lee County commissioner, Cape Coral businessman, the son of ex-CIA boss Porter Goss, a young Naples attorney and a quirky out-of-state candidate have quickly made the 14th District Congressional Republican primary race highly competitive.

Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fort Myers, opened the floodgates for candidates two weeks ago when he declared plans to run for the Senate seat held by Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Miami.

The 14th District congressional seat represents Lee County, including Boca Grande, and parts of Charlotte and Collier counties.

State Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Cape Coral; Republican Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall; Sanibel resident Chauncey Goss, son of former CIA head Porter Goss; attorney Joe Davidow of Naples; and Timothy Rossano have all announced intent to succeed Mack.

Jim Roach, 59, a Cape Coral businessman and combat decorated veteran, who lost to Mack in 2010, is running on the Democratic ticket. So far he appears to be alone in the Democratic primary.

The economy will be the key issue in the race, the candidates all agree.

Hall, 51, has a grassroots political background augmented by historic achievements. She was named the first woman chair for the Lee County Commission in its 119-year history after she became the first woman ever re-elected to the Lee County Commission in 2006.

She spent five years as Fort Myers Downtown Redevelopment Agency director of marketing and two with the city’s Department of Tourism and Marketing as deputy director. In 1994, Hall left Fort Myers to open her own marketing consulting business, Hall & Co., which she maintains interest in.

“I think it’s important to stay in touch with real business people,” Hall said.

Aubuchon, 49, a homebuilder and real estate agent, said he will reveal his platform soon.

“I love our community and our nation and the current path we are traveling on is wrong,” Aubuchon said. “Washington needs leaders willing confront the status quo, hold true to their convictions and still affect positive change.”

Goss, 45, wants to follow in his father’s congressional footsteps.

Goss spent most of the last decade working at the National Security Division at the Office of Management and Budget, where he helped prepare defense budgets, and later as the deputy staff director for the House budget committee, where he worked closely with Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan.

Goss said his top priority is reviving the Southwest Florida economy. Goss said politicians need to “get our economic house in order so our children aren’t crushed with debt and the health and retirement security of our seniors remains intact.”

Three years out of St. Thomas University School of Law, Davidow is the youngest in the politically mature field. He blames those in office for the present predicament of the sluggish Lee County economy.

“The lack of growth in the economy and inability to obtain financing are directly related to the actions taken by our previous Congress,” Davidow said. “I believe in making informed decisions and drafting legislation to drive growth, create jobs, limit government, protect the environment and drive America to regain its competitive status in the global market.”

Long-shot Rossano of south Lee County, a third-party candidate in Rhode Island for the “Cool Moose”party, has also filed to run.

Others who have indicated possible interest: Former state Sen. Burt Saunders and former state Rep. Dudley Goodlette, Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah, former state Sen. Burt Saunders and state Rep. Paige Kreegel, R-Punta Gorda. Kreegel has filed to run for another congressional seat but, after redistricting, could run for Mack’s seat.