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  •   GOP Sen. Mack to Announce Retirement

    By Helen Dewar
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, March 6, 1999; Page A4

    Connie Mack (Fla.), third-ranking member of the Senate Republican leadership, will announce next week he is not seeking a third term next year, sources close to Mack said yesterday.

    Mack, 58, had collected nearly $3 million for a reelection campaign but stirred speculation that he might retire when he told reporters last month he had not made up his mind about running again.

    Other Republicans, including Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, strongly urged Mack to run again. But Mack, who is an advocate of term limits, was said by friends to be eager to pursue life outside the Senate, a common theme of many senators who retire at his age after two or three terms. "He's ready to move on," said one source.

    Bush spokesman Cory Tilley said the governor was "surprised and disappointed" by Mack's decision but understood his reasons.

    Word of Mack's plans spread out of Florida and Washington when he informing friends, family members and Senate colleagues of his decision. He plans a public announcement next Saturday in Fort Myers, aides said.

    Mack would be the first Senate Republican to announce retirement in this election cycle, although there could be others. Sen. John H. Chafee (R-R.I.), 76, said earlier this week he has not decided whether to seek a fifth term.

    By contrast, three Democrats have decided to retire: Sens. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (N.Y.), Frank R. Lautenberg (N.J.) and Richard H. Bryan (Nev.).

    Republicans probably would be favored to retain Mack's seat, although a GOP-held House seat could be put at risk if a House member in a politically divided district runs for the Senate seat. Democrats would be favored to succeed Chafee, however. Races for the Democratic-held seats in New York, New Jersey and Nevada are viewed as competitive.

    Republicans now have a 55-vote majority in the Senate but will be defending 19 seats, compared with 14 for the Democrats. The large number of early retirements by Democrats has dimmed Democratic hopes of retaking control of the Senate in the 2000 elections.

    Among those who have been mentioned as possible candidates to succeed Mack are Reps. Mark Foley (R), Bill McCollum (R) and Peter Deutsch (D), State Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson (D), Miami-Dade County Executive Mayor Alex Penelas and former state senator Charlie Crist, who ran unsuccessfully against Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) last year. An aide said Foley is likely to run.

    Mack, who takes his name from his famous grandfather, longtime owner and manager of the Philadelphia Athletics professional baseball team, served three terms in the House before he was elected to the Senate in 1988, succeeding Lawton Chiles (D), who went on to serve two terms as Florida governor. Although his first Senate victory was close, Mack became one of the most popular vote-getters among Senate Republicans. He won reelection six years ago by more than 2 to 1 over Hugh Rodham, who is the brother of Hillary Rodham Clinton.

    A banker by profession, Mack has a solidly conservative voting record and is chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. Mack, his wife and daughter are cancer survivors, and Mack has taken a strong interest in increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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