Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla., is best known in Washington for his family and marital connections. His namesake father is a former Florida GOP representative and senator while his wife is Rep. Mary Bono Mack, R-Calif., the widow of the late entertainer and former representative Sonny Bono. But the younger Mack has sought to build his own reputation by staking out some strongly conservative turf on a few matters.
Mack is a devout fiscal conservative, often joining Arizona GOP representative Jeff Flake in his quest to add anti-earmarking provisions to pending legislation. In the 111th Congress, Mack was a frequent critic of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, demanding that Geithner resign for allegedly failing to bolster public confidence in the economy. His devotion to limited government also extends to campaign finances—he was one of 57 Republicans to support a failed amendment by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, in 2010 that sought to remove all restrictions on such spending.
At the same time, Mack was among the Republicans who condemned Arizona lawmakers for passing a tough illegal immigration law in 2010 that many conservatives applauded. Mack said the law—which would give law enforcement expanded powers to stop suspected illegal immigrants—is “reminiscent of a
time during World War II when the Gestapo in Germany stopped people on the street and asked for their papers without probable cause.” Mack, however, has spoken out against the DREAM Act legislation that would grant legal status to illegal immigrants’ children attending U.S. colleges, saying such people do not deserve the benefits provided to citizens. Mack also breaks from conservatives on his support for embryonic stem cell research, a cause shared by his father, a cancer survivor.
Mack is an active member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in the 111th Congress chaired its Western Hemisphere subcommittee focusing on Latin America. He has been a vociferous critic of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez, repeatedly calling on the Obama administration to name Venezuela as a state sponsor of terrorism. He added language to a 2009 bill reauthorizing State Department programs that called for monitoring contacts between Venezuela and Iran and Hezbollah figures. He also introduced a bill that year that would withhold U.S. funding to the Organization of American States if it granted membership to Cuba.
Mack also called on President Barack Obama in 2010 to take a tougher stance against Iran’s efforts to develop its nuclear capability. And he was critical of Obama’s efforts in 2009 to set a potential departure date for U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
As a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Mack supported efforts to enact a longer-term surface transportation bill in the 111th Congress than Obama wanted. Mack also called for removing Davis-Bacon requirements from the bill requiring contractors on federal projects to pay locally
prevailing wages, a sore spot for many Republicans.
Mack was discussed a potential Senate candidate in 2010, but dropped out of the running early on. His main campaign funding sources include retirees, the health care and securities industries, and Republican lawyers and law firms.
Written by Christina L. Lyons, copyright 2010 CQ Press, an Imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.