Florida state Senate President Mike Haridopolos announced in December his bid for U.S. Senate in 2012, becoming the first Republican opponent to Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson. Now Haridopolos has created a website — mike2012.com — and a political committee — “Friends of Mike H” — in support of his run. (No committee could be found with that name in the Federal Election Commission database.)

According to an email sent out by GOP fundraiser Meredith O’Rourke, Haridopolos will hold a “private strategy session” Feb. 3 at the Hyatt Regency Orlando Airport with a suggested donation of $10,000. The legislative session starts March 8.

Haridopolos, a state senator from Melbourne since 2003, remains largely unknown statewide. A Public Policy Polling survey conducted in mid-December showed Haridopolos with a 4/26 favorability spread, with 70 percent having no opinion. He trailed Nelson in a hypothetical match-up by a 44-32 percent margin, with 24 percent undecided.

No other major candidates have officially announced, though former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, U.S. Rep. Connie Mack and state Rep. Adam Hasner are often mentioned as possible challengers.

Sen. Nelson is the only remaining Democrat to hold statewide office; he beat former U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris in a landslide in 2006. He had a 36/33 favorability rating according to the same PPP survey, with 31 percent having no opinion of him.

Luke Johnson reports on Florida for The American Independent.

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