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Down in other polls, Connie Mack-bashing George LeMieux wins over FFRW

Monday, February 20th, 2012 by Dara Kam


After trashing front-runner Connie Mack at a GOP women’s forum Sunday afternoon, George LeMieux emerged as the winner of the group’s straw poll in the Republican U.S. Senate primary.

LeMieux, who served for about 16 months alongside incumbent (and target) U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, is trailing Mack by 30 points in some polls.

But the GOP ladies apparently liked him enough to give him a considerable lead over retired Army Col. Mike McCalister and Mack, who came in last.

The results were interesting, FFRW VP Kim Carroll said in an e-mail, because a poll on the organization’s website prior to Sunday’s event resulted in a virtual three-way tie.

The candidates did not appear together during the two-hour forum, and were only in the same room together briefly, although the trio was scheduled to be on stage at the event’s conclusion.

Mack, who was up first, left the Hotel Duval shortly after fielding prepared questions from the women. McCalister followed, and LeMieux went last, hanging around after the meeting and working the crowd that included some of the state’s most influential Republican women, including RNC Co-Chairwoman Sharon Day. The straw poll of 117 members of the FFRW’s executive committee was held shortly after the forum.

One of the questions specific to LeMieux dealt with an explanation for his ties to former Gov. Charlie Crist, a once-loved politico now anathema to party loyalists after he jumped the GOP to run as an independent in a losing fight for the U.S. Senate against Marco Rubio.

“I’m my own man. And I proved it when I was in the US Senate,” LeMieux said. “I governed based upon my conservative values, your conservative values. A lot of us in this room supported the former governor at one time or another. And he disappointed all of us.”

LeMieux handled his response well, some of those present said.

Each of the candidates appeared separately onstage and were asked questions posed by members and selected and edited by FFRW chairwoman Cindy Graves.

Each candidate was supposed to be hit with a somewhat critical question. LeMieux was asked about his former employer Crist, McCalister was asked about whether he has exaggerated his military career and Mack was asked…nothing.

The Congressman was supposed to be questioned about criticism that he does not spend enough time in his Ft. Myers-area district but instead divides his time between Washington and California, where his wife and fellow congressional colleague U.S. Rep. Mary Bono Mack resides.

“Whoever was given the question to ask didn’t ask it,” Graves said.

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