PALM BAY, Fla. (AP) — The two rivals seeking to win the U.S. Senate seat in Florida are keeping to mostly friendly territory in the final days before the election, trying to ramp up support in a race that has gotten little attention amid the razor-tight presidential contest.
U.S. Rep. Connie Mack is sticking to central Florida, making frequent stops in north Florida where Republican support is deeper. Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson is also spending quite a bit of time there and in South Florida, where a large number of Democratic voters also reside.
Nelson campaigned Friday alongside former President Bill Clinton, who was making stops across the state on behalf of President Barack Obama. Nelson stuck to his campaign message that voters in the state want someone who can work with both parties.
"It's the most polarized environment that I have seen in our state, and our state is a state that likes to come together," Nelson said. "What we see is that the politics has been going off the rails."
The tactic has worked for Nelson in the past.
Six years ago, Nelson was able to match former Secretary of State Katherine Harris in Republican strongholds in north Florida en route to a substantial victory. Nelson, for example, matched Harris in such Panhandle counties as Escambia and Bay.
Nelson, who grew up in Brevard County and later flew on a Space Shuttle mission, returned to his home county at midday where he talked about the future of the nation's space program.
Sharon Lagana, a Merritt Island voter who attended the rally, said Nelson's support for the space program was a key reason she is backing him.
"I'm 150 percent behind Bill Nelson," Lagana said.
Mack made stops in DeLand and in Orange Park where he joined other Republicans in urging GOP voters to get out the vote.
"I'm losing my voice but that's because I have been out there working hard," Mack said. "I know we are all tired but we only have a few more days and we are so close."
New statistics released by the Department of State show 3.46 million Floridians have already voted. As of Thursday, about 76,000 more Democrats than Republicans had either voted early or turned in an absentee ballot. The total number of voters also includes about 600,000 people who are not affiliated with either party.
Associated Press writer Matt Sedensky contributed to this story from West Palm Beach. Farrington reported from DeLand.
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