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Florida's new senator is to Gov. Charlie Crist what Karl Rove was to George W.


Crist’s Surprise New Senator

Florida’s new senator is to Gov. Charlie Crist what Karl Rove was to George W.

Imagine, a decade ago, then-Gov. George W. Bush of Texas naming political maestro Karl Rove to the vacancy.

That’s about the way Florida Republicans I talked to characterized Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s surprise appointment of longtime political alter ego George LeMieux to the Sunshine State’s vacant Senate seat.  When incumbent Republican Mel Martinez announced his surprise resignation on August 9, betting was on Crist turning to more luminous GOPers such as former state Attorney General Jim Smith or former Gov. Bob Martinez (no relation to Mel).

But on Friday (August 28), Crist instead turned instead to insider LeMieux, who had helped quarterback his winning races for attorney general and governor and then served as chief of staff to Crist when he held both offices.  

LeMieux is politically savvy, state GOPers agree. Along with his longtime (and politically successful) association with Crist, the new senator also served as GOP chairman of Broward County (Fort Lauderdale). Given the ties to Crist, LeMieux is expected to fill vote along the same lines as the centrist governor as he fills out the remainder of Martinez’s term until January of 2011.  

“George will organize the office along the same lines he organized Gov. Crist’s office in Tallahassee and will vote pretty much the way the governor would,” Gary Lee, Republican chairman of Lee County, told me this morning.  Crist, of course, is running for the seat vacated by Martinez and faces a primary challenge from Marco Rubio, former state House speaker and a stalwart conservative.  Rubio has focused his fire on Crist’s non-conservative positions on issues such as global warming (Crist wants federal climate control measures) and the Obama stimulus package (Crist was the first Republican governor to support it).  Just two weeks ago, a poll of members of the GOP county committee in Lee County showed Rubio beating Crist with 85% of the vote among the party activists.

So what is sure to be an exciting primary goes on.  But for now, a Senate seat is filled by a Crist ally.

Written By

John Gizzi has come to be known as â??the man who knows everyone in Washingtonâ?ť and, indeed, many of those who hold elected positions and in party leadership roles throughout the United States. With his daily access to the White House as a correspondent, Mr. Gizzi offers readers the inside scoop on whatâ??s going on in the nationâ??s capital. He is the author of a number of popular Human Events features, such as â??Gizzi on Politicsâ?ť and spotlights of key political races around the country. Gizzi also is the host of â??Gizziâ??s America,â?ť video interviews that appear on Gizzi got his start at Human Events in 1979 after graduating from Fairfield University in Connecticut and then working for the Travis County (Tex.) Tax Assessor. He has appeared on hundreds of radio and TV shows, including Fox News Channel, C-SPAN, America's Voice,The Jim Bohannon Show, Fox 5, WUSA 9, America's Radio News Network and is also a frequent contributor to the BBC -- and has appeared on France24 TV and German Radio. He is a past president of the Georgetown Kiwanis Club, past member of the St. Matthew's Cathedral's Parish Council, and secretary of the West End Friends of the Library. He is a recipient of the William A. Rusher Award for Journalistic Excellence and was named Journalist of the Year by the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2002. John Gizzi is also a credentialed correspondent at the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has questioned two IMF managing directors, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Christine LaGarde, and has become friends with international correspondents worldwide. Johnâ??s email is JGizzi@EaglePub.Com

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