Connie Mack has the name. He has the conservative credentials.
He's been campaigning for the U.S. Senate for months. He has the backing of virtually all major Republican players in Florida, plus Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
And yet, when Mack joined a Romney rally last week north of Tampa, there were voters in the crowd like Steve and Amada Chenenky. They're longtime Republican supporters, stay decently afloat of politics — and they know virtually nothing about Mack.
"I know who his father is, I know who his wife is, and I know he's a Republican," said Steve Chenenky, 62, of Spring Hill.
Mack's fate Tuesday will likely hinge on the turnout of voters like the Chenenkys, who will support the four-term congressman from Fort Myers. The day is setting up as a referendum on whether the Romney surge, the Mack family name and the "REP" next to it can carry him past incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson.
Stuck in the shadow of a presidential race, Mack has struggled to redefine his image as the silver-spoon son of Connie Mack III, a former U.S. congressman and senator. Many know of the younger Mack, but few can recite details of his Penny Plan or recount his congressional record.
Mack, 45, rejects the notion that most voters don't know him beyond name and party, saying "I think people see a lot more than that." He remains optimistic Romney's recent Florida surge gives him momentum — or as the campaign calls it, "Mackmentum" — headed into Election Day.
"I think we're going to see a big number of Republican voters come out, and that's going to help me and it's going to help Mitt Romney," Mack said.
The polls suggest turnout might not be enough. The RealClearPolitics average of polls puts Nelson at 7-percentage point lead, and the New York Times' FiveThirtyEight blog, which uses data models to predict election results, puts Mack's chances at 0 percent.
"Romney would have to win by 6 or 7 points for Mack to squeak out a half-point victory," said Chris Ingram, a Tampa-based Republican political consultant. "And I just don't see that happening."
Still, Mack said last week his internal polling shows a 1.4-percentage point advantage over Nelson.
"We feel good about where we are and where we'll end up on Election Day," he said after casting a ballot in Fort Myers. "We need to get people out to vote."
On the campaign trail, Mack's vision clearly resonates with conservatives. Whether he's speaking to Cuban-Americans in Miami, Republicans in politically divided Tampa or social conservatives outside Orlando, Mack's message remains the same.
On so-called Obamacare: "I will vote to repeal it." On federal spending: "The government is too big, too broad, too expansive." On sequestration, the agreement to cut defense spending if a budget deal isn't reached: "It might have been the dumbest idea the Congress had ever came up with."
He doesn't stray from the script, rarely pandering on social issues or anything beyond the economy.
"Whether I'm talking to Republicans or Democrats, this is who I am," Mack said after a campaign stop in Miami. "This is what I believe in and I've done it for the last 12 years as an elected official."
In Congress, Mack has been a steadfast economic conservative. On vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan's proposed budget — which is loathed by Democrats — Mack has tacked right, saying it doesn't balance quickly enough. He's introduced his own legislation known as the Penny Plan, which cuts federal spending by 1 percent each year for six years, then caps it.
"He will make sure the government reduces the deficit and returns to a balanced budget," said Luz Gonzalez, 55, of Miami, who volunteers for FreedomWorks, the conservative nonprofit backing Mack's campaign. "This out-of-control spending is unacceptable."
Mack's conservative record hasn't drawn the most attention this campaign.
Instead, it's been his personal history: Two road rage incidents in the late 1980s. A 1992 bar fight in Atlanta. Work he performed for Hooters. Missed votes while in Congress.
"I couldn't believe that someone could run for office with such a horrible reputation — if you believe the commercials," said Dolores Coker Smith, 73, a retired florist, at a Mack campaign stop in Central Florida. "Frankly, if it was true, I wouldn't vote for him."
Of course, there's context to each blemish: The road rage and fight happened 20-plus years ago. Hooters was one of many clients while Mack worked as a marketing executive. Nelson also missed votes when running for governor in 1990.
Over meals at Pinchers Crab Shack in recent years, Republican congressional candidate Trey Radel has come to know a public servant different than the ads portray.
"Connie is so down-to-earth, very easy to get along with," said Radel, who won the primary to take Mack's seat. "When I've been with him, whether it's with Republicans or liberals, he's not combative. He's open to listening to ideas."
Still, Mack hasn't garnered much positive media attention. While several of the state's largest newspapers endorsed Romney, not one chose Mack.
And in Mack's lone chance to challenge Nelson, a one-hour debate two weeks ago, the discussion largely devolved into talking points and accusations of lying.
Personal attacks aside, Mack's campaign never garnered a major grassroots movement.
His fundraising has been relatively paltry, at $6.6 million through mid-October. Even the two U.S. Senate candidates in Montana have raised more than $8 million each. (Those totals don't include spending from outside groups, like super PACs, which have buoyed Mack.)
While a smattering of Republicans at recent campaign events knew Mack inside-and-out, most didn't. A couple even confused the younger Mack for his father.
"I don't really know him that well," said Charlie Boesch, 53, of Tampa, at a recent Romney rally. "I was actually a big (George) LeMieux fan and was disappointed when he pulled out of the race, but I'm going to support Connie Mack."
For many, like the Chenenkys, Obama fatigue and Nelson's association with the president will drive Mack's support. Whether that and the Mack name are enough to carry the challenger could decide the race.
"It's what we know about the other guy," Steve Chenenky said. "He's an Obama rubber stamp."