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United States Senate election in Florida, 1988

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Title: United States Senate election in Florida, 1988  
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Subject: United States presidential election in Florida, 1988, United States Senate election in Tennessee, 1988, United States Senate elections, 1988, United States Senate elections in Florida, Florida gubernatorial election, 1970
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United States Senate election in Florida, 1988

United States Senate election in Florida, 1988

November 8, 1988

Nominee Connie Mack III Buddy MacKay
Party Republican Democratic
Popular vote 2,051,071 2,016,553
Percentage 50.4% 49.6%

U.S. Senator before election

Lawton Chiles

Elected U.S. Senator

Connie Mack III

The 1988 United States Senate election in Florida was held on November 8, 1988. Incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Lawton Chiles decided to retire instead of seeking a fourth term. Republican Connie Mack III won the open seat.[1]

Democratic primary



Democratic primary results[2]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Bill Gunter 383,721 38.00%
Democratic Buddy MacKay 263,946 26.14%
Democratic Dan Mica 179,524 17.78%
Democratic Pat Frank 119,277 11.81%
Democratic Claude Kirk 51,387 5.09%
Democratic Fred Rader 11,820 1.17%
Totals 1,009,675 100%
Democratic primary runoff results[3]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Buddy MacKay 369,266 52.00%
Democratic Bill Gunter 340,918 48.00%
Totals 710,184 100%

Republican primary


  • Connie Mack III, U.S. Congressman
  • Robert Merkle, former U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Florida


Republican primary results[4]
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Connie Mack 405,296 61.78%
Republican Robert Merkle 250,730 38.22%
Totals 656,026 100%

General election



This senate election was heavily targeted by both parties. U.S. Representative Mack announced his candidacy back in October 1987.[5] President Ronald Reagan endorsed Mack in June 1988[6] to allow Mack to focus on the general election, as he easily won the September 7th Republican primary against U.S. Attorney Robert Merkle.[7] In May 1988, MacKay announced he would run for the open seat,[8] and defeated Insurance Commissioner Bill Gunter in a close October 5 runoff primary election.[9]

The general election became very nasty. MacKay tried to portray the Republican as "extremist."[10] Mack attacked his opponent in television ads by connecting him to unpopular Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.[11] Mack had help from Vice Presidential candidate Dan Quayle.[12] The election was so close there was a recount until MacKay conceded eight days after election day.[13]


General election results[14]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Connie Mack III 2,051,071 50.42% +12.15%
Democratic Buddy MacKay 2,016,553 49.57% -12.15%
Write-ins 585 0.01%
Majority 34,518 0.85% -22.61%
Turnout 4,068,209


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  13. ^,1269360&dq=connie+mack&hl=en
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