“He’s handled the duties and responsibilities in a very professional way and so I’m going to miss him as subcommittee chair,’’ said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Miami, chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs committee, who appointed him to the post. “He was very strong against dictators and regimes like Chavez, Ortega, the Castro brothers and company, and I wanted someone with those values and that kind of compass.”
But after 12 years in office, he does not point to any signature accomplishment and is at a loss to describe a bi-partisan initiative he championed.
Mack’s record in public service has been overshadowed on occasion by troubles in his personal life.
His first marriage ended in a 2006 divorce and it was followed by unpaid bills, bounced checks and other financial problems. In 2007, he married California Republican Rep. Mary Bono, the widow of singer and congressman Sonny Bono, raising questions about how much time he was spending in Florida.
His opponents have dredged up reports from 1989 when, at the age of 22, Mack was arrested while at a Jacksonville nightclub and, three years later, got into a bar brawl with then-Atlanta Braves outfielder Ron Gant.
Mack has acknowledged his troubles and his campaign said his bar brawls occurred when he was “young and foolish.” Mack’s opponents have used his personal history to tar him as unfit for the Senate, but he argues they are irrelevant to judging his character today.
“Even if it were all true, who cares? That’s not affecting people today,’’ he tells reporters.
The campaign turned to Mack’s mother to mend the residual damage. In a television ad released this month, his mother Priscilla speaks to the camera as his father and son sit in the background.
“My Connie was a good kid. A bit of a handful — we mothers understand. Who would have thought he wants to change the world? But he does,’’ Priscilla Mack says. “My son Connie will be a great senator, just like his dad.”