ORLANDO (CBSMiami/NSF) – Former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner scored a victory in a U.S. Senate straw poll by conservative activists Friday, a win that could raise the stature of his campaign and emphasizes the problems one of his major primary rivals faces with Republican base.

Hasner carried 34 percent of the 1,501 votes cast at the straw poll, held at the Conservative Political Action Conference, with former gubernatorial candidate and retired Col. Mike McCalister at 30 percent, former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux with 24 percent and former steakhouse executive Craig Miller with 12 percent.

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Other candidates — presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Ron Paul received write-in votes — drew a small number of votes.

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A win for Hasner at the event, meant to draw conservative activists from across the state, appeared to indicate the once little-known legislative leader was gathering momentum among the base in the four-man race to take on U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat, in the general election next year. Republicans are hoping to topple Nelson in their drive to take over the U.S. Senate, where Democrats currently hold a slim majority.

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In forums sponsored by CPAC and the Republican Party of Florida, which is also holding its Presidency 5 event in Orlando this weekend, the candidates emphasized their pasts and sought, at times, to subtly undermine their opponents.