When U.S. Rep. Connie Mack (R-14) announced his intent to run for the U.S. Senate, it was everybody in the pool for his congressional vacancy.
Six GOP candidates qualified for the August primary, including two state reps, a grassroots contender, a native son from Sanibel and a man endorsed by Mack.
After Aug. 14, there will be one rival remaining to face Democrat Jim Roach and independent Brandon M. Smith in the Nov. 6 election.
The Republicans all say they believe government is bloated and the economy needs to be fixed through job creation and lowering the nation's debt.
They offer some differing views on how to get there. In alphabetical order:
Profession: real estate broker, homebuilder
Residence: Cape Coral
State Rep. Aubuchon, District 74, has served since 2006. He said it's time to send a conservative to Washington who will cut spending, balance the budget, reduce taxes and hold government accountable.
"The path our nation is heading in is wrong," he said. "I'm concerned about the mounting deficit and the lack of willingness of Congress to address it. My leadership experience in business, the community and in the legislature makes me uniquely qualified."
Aubuchon also advocates term limits and eliminating congressional pensions.
"It's time to reform the mentality of career politicians. In advocating this, I hope to break the gridlock that has paralyzed this Congress for four years," Aubuchon said. "We need to establish an atmosphere of respect in moving the nation forward to articulate a plan that America can believe in."
Davidow said what sets him apart is the courage and capability to effect change, Davidow said.
"I got into this race not because Connie Mack got out of the race. I got into this race to challenge Connie Mack, in essence portraying the courage to challenge your own party when you believe your own party is not getting the job done," he said.
He cited his professional background.
"I'm an attorney, I have a sound and complete understanding of the law and the constitution, and the design of what the federal legislature is meant to do," Davidow said. "What I've done is develop my own platform and pillars, which is J-O-B-S, a detailed and holistic approach to stop the fiscal bleeding, allow free enterprise to grow and prevent the problems from occurring again. I believe I am the only candidate among the six and the Democrats, with a plan that covers all of the maladies of the federal government and solutions for what will get done."
He is running because he is unhappy with Washington, D.C.
"Because I love this country and the plans before Congress are inefficient and inadequate and, based on constitutional principals, we can turn the direction and restore American prosperity in a very short amount of time," he said.
Profession: portfolio manager
Tea Party candidate Donalds, born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., has a degree in finance from Florida State University.
"We won't have reform in Washington without persuading the average voter of the conservative approach," Donalds said. "What we're trying to do is what's best for the country."
Donalds, has rapidly moved from an unknown to a contender with straw poll recognition. He said he isn't worried about major endorsements, saying they have been part of the problem.
"I've never net Paul Ryan or Jeb Bush or Connie Mack. We've been listening to this political class for 50 to 100 years. Where has that taken us?" Donalds asked. "We are where we are because of who's been here. People need someone who makes sense. I make sense."
CHAUNCEY PORTER GOSS
Profession: fiscal policy analyst, budgeting
Goss has had a lifelong exposure to politics. His later father, Porter Goss, was a former director of the CIA and U.S. Rep. of Florida in the 14th District.
Goss, endorsed by former Gov. Jeb Bush and Rep. Paul Ryan,, said he never thought he would get involved with politics, even though he's been around it his whole life.
"I was always involved in policy. This is the first thing I've run for," Goss said.
A failing political system motivated Goss.
"I have three sons and we're setting them up for failure," he said.
Goss said he wants to serve his district.
"They need someone watching over them, to advocate and be a community member. I can do that," Goss said. "I know how Washington works and can hit the ground running in entitlement reform, reducing regulations on business and controlling our debt."
Profession: doctor, citrus farmer
Residence: Punta Gorda
State Rep. Kreegel, District 72, which covers DeSoto and parts of Lee and Charlotte counties, has served since 2004.
Considering his background, it shouldn't be any surprise the main item is the repeal of ObamaCare, which the Supreme Court upheld June 20.
"It's a poor, big-government solution to a problem. Forcing someone to buy something is as un-American as you can get," Kreegel said. "But what comes after? We need as many doctors at the table to come up with something that works."
Kreegel, endorsed by Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, said the main issue is jobs and the economy.
"It's the same thing from the Keys to Seattle. We need to get back to what our founding fathers intended," Kreegel said. "I learned in Tallahassee that to go with the flow and push the green button isn't the answer."
Occupation: TV radio personality, entrepreneur
Residence: Fort Myers
Radel's morning talk show listeners already know what's on his mind. A Tea Party favorite endorsed by Connie Mack, would encourage entrepreneurship, being one himself.
"We need to return to free markets and get government out of the way. Both parties have failed us in Washington. Once we let entrepreneurs do what they do best, we'll grow the economy," Radel said.
Radel said the biggest threat to national security is debt.
"I'm tired of talking about our problems instead of doing something," Radel said. "To move forward, we need to convince two groups of people: the American people and Congress, including Democrats."