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LeMieux turns to FDR for Senate campaign “freedoms”

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Republican U.S. Senate candidate George LeMieux rolled out a plan to fix the nation’s economy Wednesday — dubbing it his ‘four freedoms plan.”

The historic roots of the “four freedoms” concept goes back to Democratic President Franklin Roosevelt, who pledged to defend the constitution’s guaranteed freedoms of speech and worship, and freedom from fear and want.

LeMieux, engulfed in a tough, four-way GOP primary, is adding to the list the freedom to work, pursue the American dream, and safeguard freedom from foreign dependence and debt. Some of his proposals mirror those aired by Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and others in the Republican presidential field.

“After faith and family, the most important thing a person can have is a job,” LeMieux said.

LeMieux’s approach would reduce federal spending to 2007 levels, which he said could help balance the budget within two years.

 He would slash the corporate tax rate by almost one-third, to 25 percent, while repealing the federal health care overhaul pushed by President Obama and tough federal banking regulations that he said are stifling lending.

LeMieux also said his deficit-reduction plan will take on Social Security and Medicare.

 Among the changes he would advance: gradually raising to age 69 the retirement age for those now under age 55 and impose so-called means testing that would reduce Social Security payments to wealthier retirees.

“We are losing jobs today because of our debt,” LeMieux said.

Miss. guv Haley Barbour backs George LeMieux U.S. Senate race

Monday, August 8th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is backing George LeMieux in a heated GOP primary for U.S. Senate.

Barbour, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee who briefly considered running in the 2012 presidential race, called LeMieux a “solid conservative” in a statement released this morning by LeMieux’s campaign.

“I am honored to earn the support of a principled conservative like Haley Barbour. When Governor Barbour was RNC Chairman, he helped orchestrate the Republican Revolution in 1994 that built the type of conservative majorities we need to turn our country around,” LeMieux said in the release. “More importantly, from his leadership during hurricane Katrina to his work passing key pro-life legislation, Governor Barbour is a case study in effective conservative governance.”

LeMieux is struggling to shake off his ties to Gov. Charlie Crist, who appointed LeMieux to replace former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez when he resigned mid-term. LeMieux, a one-time close ally to Crist whom the former governor called “The Maestro,” did not seek reelection to the seat, which now-U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio won after Crist quit the GOP and ran against him as an independent.

LeMieux will face off in the primary against Delray Beach’s Adam Hasner, a former state House member who also served as the chamber’s majority leader.

Wealthy Delray Beacher Nick Loeb is toying with entrée into the race but is waiting until gal pal Sofia Vergara, star of Modern Family, gets past the Emmy Awards next month. Chris Ruddy, another Palm Beacher and CEO of the influential West Palm Beach-based conservative publication NewsMax, has ruled out getting into the candidate fray.

A Quinnipiac University poll last week showed that 53 percent of Republican voters remain undecided in the Senate primary but found Plant City tree farmer and retired Army Reserve Col. Mike McCalister leading the current four-candidate field with a meager 15 percent.

Behind McCalister in the poll were both LeMieux, with 12 percent, and Hasner, with 6 percent. Former Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller weighed in with 8 percent support.

Q poll gives Nelson reason to smile, and sweat

Friday, August 5th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Running for a third term next fall, Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson can take some solace in this week’s Quinnipiac University poll that shows none of his potential Republican rivals so far emerging as a clear frontrunner.

A whopping 53 percent of registered Republicans told Quinnipiac they were undecided between former Rep. Adam Hasner of Delray Beach, former short-time U.S. Senate appointee George LeMieux, ex-steakhouse boss Craig Miller, and tea party courter Mike McAlister, who topped the field with support from 15 percent of voters.

Forty-six percent of respondents also told Quinnipiac they would support Nelson over any Republican, with the rival drawing 35 percent.

But before the Democratic incumbent gets too comfortable, he might look at his own disapproval rating among voters. Nelson plunged to 42 percent when Congress and President Obama forged their debt ceiling deal last week — the Florida senator’s lowest mark since his scraped 42 percent in August 2004.

But then, Nelson was still two years away from re-election. And that year, he faced off against politically damaged Republican Katherine Harris, in a non-presidential election year.

Post-debt deal, a plurality of those polled were willing to say Nelson deserved to be re-elected. But the 44-38 percent margin may be a little too close, especially since a frontrunning alternative is certain to emerge in coming months out of the pack of Republicans nipping at Nelson’s heels.

‘Bin Laden bounce’ gone, Obama back to negative approval ratings in Florida

Thursday, August 4th, 2011 by George Bennett

President Obama‘s approval rating is back under water in crucial Florida after briefly bobbing above the surface in May following the killing of Osama bin Laden.

A Quinnipiac Unversity poll released this morning shows Florida voters disapproving of Obama both before and after the president and Congress reached a weekend debt-ceiling deal. In polling done Wednesday through Sunday, 44 percent approved and 50 percent disapproved of the way Obama is handling his job. Among those surveyed Monday and Tuesday, Obama had the same 44 percent approval score with 51 percent disapproving.

Obama and Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney were tied at 44 percent apiece in polling done after the debt deal, compared to a 46-41 percent Obama lead in the days before the deal. Romney tops the GOP presidential field with 23 percent, with the potential candidacy of Texas Gov. Rick Perry second at 13 percent.

The poll finds Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson leading an unnamed Republican challenger by a 46-to-35 percent margin.

The GOP Senate race remains wide open, according to Quinnipiac, with businessman Mike McCalister topping the field at 15 percent, former appointed Sen. George LeMieux at 12 percent, businessman Craig Miller at 8 percent and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner at 6 percent. Fity-three percent of Republicans remain undecided.

In May, 51 percent of Floridians approved and 43 percent disapproved of Obama in a poll taken a few weeks after Obama ordered the Navy SEAL raid in which bin Laden was killed in Pakistan. That poll was the first in more than a year showing a positive approval score for Obama in Florida.

GOP Senate hopeful Miller channels Democrat Bob Graham ‘work days’

Thursday, July 21st, 2011 by George Bennett

Miller

New Republican Senate candidate Craig Miller, the former CEO of Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, is launching “Miller on Main Street” work days in which he’ll work a full shift at various jobs around the state.

The days, according to the Miller campaign, are “modeled after former U.S. Senator Bob Graham’s ‘Workdays,’ which afforded him the ability to stay in touch with hard-working Floridians throughout his career in public service.”

Graham

Says Miller: “Over three decades ago, Bob Graham launched his ‘Workdays’ program that afforded him the ability to stay in touch with hard-working Floridians; a program that–in my opinion–is needed now more than ever. So, as Floridians struggle to make ends meet in the face of record unemployment, reckless and wasteful government spending, mounting national debt and the threat of job-killing tax increases from career politicians, I’m driven to unveil the ‘Miller on Main Street’ program. This program will allow me to continue what I’ve done throughout my career: work alongside hard-working Floridians, listen to their concerns and suggestions and do everything in my power to make a difference for them and their families.”

Haridopolos drops out of U.S. Senate race, shakes GOP field

Monday, July 18th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Senate President Mike Haridopolos sent a shudder through Florida’s political world Monday, announcing that he was dropping out of the Republican race for U.S. Senate.

Haridopolos, who was the leading fund-raiser in a crowded GOP field looking to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, acknowledged that he was unable to juggle the jobs of legislative leader and statewide candidate.

“I truly believed I could handle both jobs, but I was wrong,” Haridopolos said in a brief statement.  “Now I am determined to make it right.”

Haridopolos also said he would not run for any other office in 2012. Instead, the term-limited senator said, “I am rededicating myself to finishing the job you sent me to do here in Florida.”

Haridopolos’ withdrawal sent a jolt through the Senate race. It also leaves former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Delray Beach, former Gov. Charlie Crist’s brief U.S. Senate appointee, George LeMieux of Fort Lauderdale, and newly announced former Ruth’s Chris Steak House CEO Craig Miller as the leading contenders to take on Nelson.

Haridopolos’ announcement, in a video his campaign released Monday morning, caught supporters by surprise.
“It’s a good day for George LeMieux and Adam Hasner,” said Fred Leonardt, an Orlando lobbyist and fund-raiser, who was among the early signers-on to the Haridopolos campaign.

Brian Ballard, a Tallahassee lobbyist and Haridopolos supporter, said he had spoken with him this morning.
“He’s just going to focus on being Senate president,” Ballard said. “He’s going to do the right thing.”

Haridopolos raised $900,000 in the quarter ending June 30, second behind LeMieux’s $950,000. But Haridopolos boasted that the $2.4 million he had banked was tops in the GOP field.

But Haridopolos’ didn’t seem to be scaring off rivals. Miller jumped into the race just last week, joining Haridopolos, LeMieux, Hasner and Mike McCalister, a Tea Party favorite who drew 10 percent of the vote in last year’s Republican primary for governor.

Those close to Haridopolos conceded that even if the Senate president managed to emerge victorious in next year’s primary, he’d likely be politically damaged going up against Nelson.

Haridopolos has weathered tough criticism for a lucrative book deal he had with his former employer, Brevard College, and for being reprimanded by his own Florida Senate for filing flawed financial disclosures over a five-year period.

Haridopolos’ communications director and prominent GOP consultant Pat Bainter, a longtime ally, left the campaign last week — in what may have proved harbingers of Monday’s announcement.

Nelson, meanwhile, welcomes the disorder in the rival field.

“As I’ve said a bunch of times before, the election is a long ways off. Right now I’m just focused on doing my job,” Nelson posted on Facebook after Haridopolos dropped out. “Come Election Day if folks like the job I’ve done, the politics will take care of itself. “

LeMieux leads latest cash quarter, as GOP Senate fields expands

Monday, July 11th, 2011 by John Kennedy

Republican U.S. Senate candidate George LeMieux on Monday became the last of the big three GOP challengers to Democrat Bill Nelson to tout his latest finance total — but he is claiming victory in the dollar race.

LeMieux’s campaign said that in the quarter ending June 30, it took in more than $950,000 — edging Senate President Mike Haridopolos’ $900,000 collected, and the $560,000 former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Delray Beach is reporting raising.

“With contributors from all over Florida, George’s campaign continues to strengthen and his grassroots momentum is reflected in his fundraising success,” campaign manager Brian Seitchik wrote on LeMieux’s website.

Haridopolos, who has been in the race longest, remains the leading money-raiser to date, with $3.4 million collected so far. Fund-raising details aren’t expected to be provided at least until reports are due July 15. Nelson hasn’t revealed his cash totals yet.

The Republican contest also is poised to grow further, with former Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse CEO Craig Miller to announce his candidacy this week. Miller ran for Congress in Central Florida last fall, finishing third in the Republican primary field behind Sandy Adams, the Orlando Republican who went on to defeat Democratic  U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas.

Cannon goes public with endorsement of Haridopolos

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 by John Kennedy

House Speaker Dean Cannon went more public Tuesday with his endorsement of Senate President Mike Haridopolos, who is among three Republican contenders looking to knock of Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson.

Cannon met with the Senate chief Tuesday in Orlando, calling him a “trusted friend, a valued legislative partner, and a much needed voice for conservative principles in Washington, DC.”

Cannon, R-Winter Park, and Haridopolos, R-Melbourne, were close allies during most of this spring’s legislative session, their first as leaders. The wheels came off toward the end, with Haridopolos later saying he was “embarrassed,” by the standoff between the two sides over legislation.

Among the bills that failed to win approval was one sought by Haridopolos, giving wrongly convicted William Dillon of the Senate boss’ home Brevard County $1 million in compensation for serving three decades behind bars.

On Tuesday, though, any hard feelings between the two chamber leaders seemed forgotten. Cannon said of Haridopolos, “ I am confident that he is the candidate that can finally retire Bill Nelson.”

Haridopolos heard similar comments in February. At a kick-off fundraiser, billed as a “private strategy session,” Haridopolos raised $1 million from lobbyists just before the session dawned.

Cannon was among those attending, drawing some notice for pledging his support for Haridopolos. Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Delray Beach and former U.S. Sen. George Lemieux of Fort Lauderdale have since joined the race.

Politico reported Tuesday that former Ruth’s Chris steak house CEO Craig Miller, who lost a congressional run last year, is also considering running for the Republican Senate nomination.

“I couldn’t ask for a better partner in the Florida Legislature and I look forward to having the speaker join me on the campaign trail,” Haridopolos said.

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