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Former RNC chief Steele: ‘Nothing against old white men, but America is more than that’

Friday, May 31st, 2013 by George Bennett

BOCA RATON — Michael Steele, the African-American who was Republican National Committee chairman from 2009 to 2011, said the GOP doesn’t need a lot of high-priced consultants to diagnose its problems with blacks and other minorities.

“You don’t need to spend a million dollars to figure out, hey, we just got our behinds kicked. You don’t need to convene grand meetings and press conferences to know that you lost the Hispanic vote, the Asian vote, the African-American vote, the female vote, the gay vote, the vote of every class of citizen except old white men,” Steele said at a dinner aimed at wooing blacks into the conservative fold.

“And nothing against old white men, but America is more than that and our conversation has to go beyond that because, as I said, America has changed,” Steele said. “Nor do Republicans have to keep repeating — and Lord, please, let them stop – ‘We need to reach out to fill-in-the-blank.’ Just shut up and do it already. Just shut up and do it already because if you listen you’ll understand that that’s what Americans want you do to.”

Steele, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, Congress Of Racial Equality spokesman Niger Innis and author Kevin Jackson spoke at the event sponsored by Boca Raton orthodontist Larry Kawa. Roughly half the audience of 400 was black.

Boca orthodontist and GOP donor brings in big-name black conservatives for outreach event

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 by George Bennett

Carroll

Some prominent black Republicans and conservatives — including former U.S. Rep. Allen West, former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele — are coming to Boca Raton on Thursday for a dinner that aims to bring African Americans into the conservative fold.

The event, which is expected to draw 450 people, is being underwritten by Dr. Larry Kawa, a Boca Raton orthodontist. Kawa is a Republican donor who founded a PAC called American Courage, but he said he’s paying for everything himself — including the dinner and speakers’ travel costs — so the event won’t be tied to the GOP or political organizations.

Kawa

“The idea is that I want to help enhance awareness within the black community of fiscal conservatism and how it affects them,” said Kawa, who is white. Kawa said he put together a list of 450 dinner invitees by contacting friends and patients who are black and some black churches, including politically connected Rev. O’Neal Dozier‘s Worldwide Christian Center.

In addition to West, Carroll and Steele, the speaker lineup will include Congress Of Racial Equality President Niger Innis and author Kevin Jackson.

Former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll lands big job in small arms

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013 by George Bennett

Jennifer Carroll, who resigned abruptly as Florida’s lieutenant governor in March, has landed a job as a senior adviser to Global Digital Solutions, which plans to merge with a small-arms manufacturing company.

Global Digital Solutions says it provides “knowledge-based and culturally attuned social consulting and security-related solutions in unsettled areas.” It plans to merge with Airtronic USA, Inc., which bills itself as the nation’s “largest woman-owned small arms manufacturer.”

Carroll is slated to become president and chief operating officer when the merger is complete, according to a press release.

“I’m delighted to join Global Digital Solutions as a senior advisor,” Carroll said in the press release. “And I look forward to working closely with the team at GDSI and Airtronic to seize what I believe are truly enormous growth opportunities both in the domestic and global arenas.”

Carroll resigned March 13, shortly after Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators questioned her about Allied Veterans of the World, a St. Augustine-based nonprofit accused of running an illegal gambling ring. Carroll, who once represented Allied Veterans as a public relations consultant, has not been accused of any wrongdoing. She said she resigned to avoid being a “distraction” to Gov. Rick Scott.

Slot machine-like games outlawed after Scott signs Internet cafe ban

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013 by Dara Kam

Slot-like machines in storefront gaming centers became illegal today after Gov. Rick Scott quietly signed into law aimed at shutting down Internet cafes.

Scott signed the bill less than a month after state and federal authorities arrested 57 people in connection with Allied Veterans of the World, a St. Augustine-based non-profit accused of posing as a charity while running a $300 million illegal gambling ring.

The investigation also prompted Jennifer Carroll, Scott’s hand-picked running mate, to resign as lieutenant governor. Carroll had consulted for Allied Veterans while she was a member of the House.

Scott signed the bill (HB 155) without any fanfare and spoke with reporters shortly afterward, quickly shifting the conversation to a plug for his two legislative priorities.

“The House and the Senate did the right thing to crack down illegal gaming especially in light of the Allied Veterans multi-state criminal conspiracy. They did the right thing and now they can get back to working on my two priorities for the session, the $2,500 pay raise across the board for classroom teachers and eliminating the sales tax on manufacturing equipment so we have more jobs,” Scott said.

Lawmakers have not yet signed off on either of Scott’s legislative goals.

The new law could disrupt gambling at the senior arcades popular with the elderly in Palm Beach County because many of the machines at the centers would be outlawed.

Internet café and arcade operators say the ban could put up to 16,000 people out of work.

Scott, who campaigned on creating 700,000 jobs in seven years, called the ban “the right thing” and turned a question about the new law’s impact on workers into another plug for his priorities.

“I have a jobs agenda. Right now what the House and Senate need to be focused on is getting rid of the sales tax on manufacturing equipment. It will create more manufacturing jobs. We have less than half the number of manufacturing jobs per capita than the rest of the country,” Scott said. The tax break would eliminate sales tax on manufacturing equipment and is expected to eliminate nearly $60 million from the state treasury the first year it goes into effect and $115 million the following year. There is no estimate on how many jobs, if any, the tax break would create.

Florida House tees up Internet cafe ban

Thursday, March 21st, 2013 by Dara Kam

The Florida House will vote tomorrow on an effort to shut down storefront gaming centers many lawmakers believe are actually illegal gambling houses.

The bill (HB 155) is on the fast-track after a multi-state sting resulted in 57 arrests and prompted Jennifer Carroll to resign as lieutenant governor. Authorities accused Allied Veterans of the World, a charitable organization Carroll consulted for while a state representative, of racketeering and money laundering charges associated with operating a $300 million illegal gambling ring.

Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, raised questions about the bill’s impact on “senior arcades,” adult amusement centers that are authorized under a different statute than Internet cafes, which operate under Florida law regarding “sweepstakes.”

The measure would ban arcades from giving away gift cards and prohibit the accumulation of points, thereby limiting prizes to 75 cents per game. Also at issue is whether the arcade games are “games of skill” or “games of chance,” which are prohibited.

Rep. Carlos Trujillo, the bill sponsor, said his bill won’t affect amusement arcades such as Chuck e. Cheese because those games involve skill while the adult arcade games resemble slot machines. The images move far too quickly for the naked eye to be able to skilfully stop them for a win, Trujillo said.

And Democrats argued that shuttering the arcades will put thousands of people out of work.

But Trujillo said that the jobs are part of an already illegal industry.

“I think it would cost the same amount of jobs if we came up here and said that marijuana dealers can no longer operate,” Trujillo, R-Miami, said.

The Senate could vote on its version of the ban as early as next week.

House committee passes Internet cafe ban

Friday, March 15th, 2013 by Dara Kam

The Florida House Select Committee on Gaming quickly passed an Internet cafe ban even though lawmakers insisted the “casinos on the corner” are already illegal under state law.

But a multi-state sting that led to the nearly 60 arrests and prompted the resignation of former Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll has suddenly breathed new life into a ban the Senate just days ago would never have endorsed.

A new version of the ban would also shut down adult arcades, prompting concerns that the bill is too broad and is moving too quickly because of this week’s events.

“This is a knee-jerk reaction to something that took place,” said Rep. Jim Waldman, D-Coconut Creek, who cast the sole vote against the measure.

The House is expected to vote on the measure on Tuesday, and the Senate could vote on its version within two weeks.

Sting that led to Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resignation fuels push for Internet cafe ban

Wednesday, March 13th, 2013 by Dara Kam

A federal gambling probe that led to the resignation of Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll last night may fuel support for a ban on the “casinos on the corner” after lawmakers have for years refused to act.

Carroll stepped down amid fallout from the investigation by the Internal Revenue Service, the Secret Service and other Florida law enforcement agencies into Allied Veterans of the World, a non-profit organization that operates dozens of internet cafes in Florida.

Allegations against Allied Veterans include money laundering, siphoning from a nonprofit for personal gain and misrepresenting the amount donated to charities. The IRS obtained search warrants to pursue the case from a federal judge in Oklahoma City.

Sen. John Thrasher, a St. Augustine Republican who called Carroll a long-time friend, said he intends to use the corruption probe to push for a ban on the Internet cafes. Thrasher, a former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, has sponsored a measure that would place a moratorium on the cafes, but said this morning he wants the Legislature to move faster and go farther.

“Now I believe that the evidence has come out that indicates these things are exactly what we thought they were. They’ve been corrupted. There’s a problem with them. Counties and cities are having problems. Law enforcement people are having problems,” Thrasher told reporters.

Eight lobbyists who represent International Internet Technologies before the legisalture and governor’s office also withdrew their registration on Wednesday. IIT is a software company that is part of the investigation of Allied Veterans of the World. Lobbyist Sarah Bascom told The Palm Beach Post they had been “misled” by IIT.

Palm Beach County banned new Internet cafes from opening in unincorporated areas last year, and the West Palm Beach city commission moved forward with a moratorium this week. More than 1,000 of the cafes have popped up throughout the state. Cafe customers purchase Internet time, which they can use to browse the Web or play free “sweepstakes” games, in which computer credit or time is won. Those credits can be redeemed for cash.

Thrasher said Volusia County Ben Johnson, who will participate in a multi-law enforcement agency news conference regarding the sting later today, told him that officials had confiscated $50 million from Allied Veterans of the World and affiliated Internet cafes.

“These things are skimming things off. They’re not doing what they’re suggested to do. It’s a system where they have to go and justify their existence and I don’t think they can do that,” Thrasher said.

Thrasher refused to speculate about a possible replacement for Carroll but said her resignation may help Scott in his reelection bid.

“The governor now has to pick, frankly, somebody that he believes can help him in the campaign. So I think it will be a benefit to him, frankly, down the road,” he said.

Gov. Rick Scott appoints ‘Stand Your Ground’ task force, sets first meeting May 1

Thursday, April 19th, 2012 by Dara Kam

The sponsor of Florida’s first-in-the-nation “Stand Your Ground” law, state Rep. Dennis Baxley, is among the 17 members of Gov. Rick Scott’s “Citizen Safety and Protection” task force that will begin meeting May 1, Scott announced Thursday.

Palm Beach County Judge Krista Marx will also sit on the panel, scheduled to hold meetings around the state and which also includes four state lawmakers from the Sanford area, a retired Florida Supreme Court judge, attorneys and a neighborhood watch volunteer.

Scott announced the formation of the task force in the aftermath of the Feb. 26 shooting death of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager, by neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman in Sanford. Sanford claimed he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense. The killing sparked a national outcry over Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law that allows people to use deadly force when they feel threatened and provides immunity from prosecution.

“We are a nation and we are a state of laws. And I’m committing to letting our legal system work to ensure the people in our state are safe and protected,” Scott told reporters at a press conference this morning. “I’m a firm supporter of the Second Amendment. I also want to make sure that we do not rush to conclusions about the ‘Stand Your Ground’ law or any other laws in our state.”

Scott waited to get the task force up-and-running until special prosecutor Angela Corey, tapped by Scott to take over the investigation into Martin’s killing, arrested Zimmerman on second-degree murder charges earlier this month.

Task force chairwoman, Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, a black former state House member who voted in favor of the 2005 law, and vice-chairman Rev. R. B. Holmes Jr., pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee joined Scott at a press conference this morning announcing the launch of the task force, which will hold its first meeting in Tallahassee. The panel is made up of “racially, regionally and professionally” diverse members from Pensacola to Miami, Carroll said.

“The brilliance of this is you have the governor’s office saying let’s look at this, versus hot air maybe elsewhere. This committee has the opportunity to listen to the public at large, take their testimony and say these are our suggestions,” Holmes said.

All of Florida’s “justifiable use of force” statute, which includes the controversial “Stand Your Ground” law, will be included within the task force’s scope of work, Carroll said. No one representing the National Rifle Association, which pushed Florida’s law and helped spread it to more than two dozen other states, will be on the panel because no one from the organization applied, Carroll said.

The task force will take public testimony, gather data with the help of the University of Florida law school and make recommendations to the governor and legislative leaders before the legislature meets again in March, Carroll said.

Scott’s office has also set up a website for the panel – www.flgov.com/citizensafety – an e-mail account – citizensafety@eog.myflorida.com – and a Twitter handle – @FLCitizenSafety – where the public can review the task force’s work and provide input.

Although the task force’s main focus will be on the justifiable use of force section of Florida law, Chapter 776, the group may also look into some of the state’s many other gun laws, Scott said.

“This task force is going to take input from people about public safety. ‘Stand your ground’ is part of it. But thank goodness we live in a state where the crime rate is at a 40-year low. I want to keep it that way. We all want to keep it that way. If there’s laws that are impacting that, where people don’t feel comfortable, I want to know about it. We all want to know about it,” Scott said.

See the full list of Scott’s task force after the jump.
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Jennifer Carroll for vice president?

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 by Dara Kam

Star Parker

Syndicated columnist and conservative talking head Star Parker wowed a group of tea partiers in the Capitol this afternoon on the opening day of session before making a recruiting stop at Lt. Gov Jennifer Carroll’s office.

Parker finished her half-hour informal speech with high praise for Carroll, a former state House member and retired Navy office whom Parker said she’s met once before.

“I’m hoping that she is in agreement with all of the ideas of limited size and scope of government because if she is I wanted to rumble out her name as we’re going around the country thinking that we need to find somebody ethnic to be the vice president – Republicans are going to win and all. She would be a better pick, would be my opinion,” Parker said, who met with Carroll for about five minutes, according to Gov. Rick Scott’s staff. Parker was in town briefly and flew into Tallahassee for a South Georgia meeting, she said.

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll

“This is a quality person, decorated military, worked her butt off to get to the state House and now as lieutenant governor is the first in the country. We’ve never in this country had a black, conservative, female lieutenant governor. I think that is worth a couple of news stories,” said Parker, a syndicated columnist and FoxNews pundit.

As an added bonus, Parker said, “she’s from one of our critical states.” Florida, of course, is a key swing state in this year’s presidential election.

Curry chosen to succeed Bitner as Republican Party of Florida chairman

Friday, September 23rd, 2011 by George Bennett

ORLANDO — The Republican Party of Florida tonight elevated Vice Chairman Lenny Curry to replace the late Dave Bitner as chairman of the state party through the 2012 elections.

With widow Wendy Bitner, Gov. Rick Scott and Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll on hand, Curry was the only candidate nominated at a meeting of the party’s 257-member executive committee. Curry, 41, is a Jacksonville business consultant and a former chairman of the Duval County GOP. His term runs through January 2013.

Bitner, 62, was elected chairman in January and diagnosed a few months later with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. He died this month, shortly after announcing his intent to resign and his wish to be succeeded by Curry.

Lt. Gov. Carroll to head South Africa trade mission

Thursday, August 11th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll will lead a “Team Florida” trade mission to South Africa in the fall, part of a global effort by Gov. Rick Scott’s administration to lure companies to the Sunshine State.

Carroll, a former state representative from Jacksonville, and the public-private Enterprise Florida economic development agency are hoping to expand the state’s exports during the nine-day junket that kicks off on Nov. 4.

The items the state sells to South Africa include airplane parts, machines, earth-movers, “coin,” and water, according to an Enterprise Florida press release announcing the trade mission.

Scott has traveled to Panama and Canada on similar missions and is headed to Brazil in the fall.

Library Guy: Location, location, location!

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Paul Clark, aka “The Library Guy,” was a familiar presence in the Capitol last year as he stood silently in busy hallways holding a sign urging lawmakers to fully fund the $21.2 million in state aid to libraries to keep federal funds flowing.

Senate budget chief J.D. Alexander, R-Lake Wales, credited Clark with the last-minute addition of the complete funding and advised other advocates to take a tip from the soft-spoken librarian. Clark’s efforts also won him a national “I Love My Librarian” award in December, and he was recently named Florida’s “Librarian of the Year.”

Clark was back in town on Wednesday, accompanied by his sons Jacob, 11, and Joseph, 10, who handed out bookmarks to lobbyists and lawmakers trekking along the bridge connecting the Capitol with the Knott Building, prime real estate according to the Clay County systems librarian.

Clark said he positioned himself at the top of the long hallway so that he’d be in plain sight as budget conferees made the long walk down the bridge as they headed into meetings during the harried final days of the 2010 session. And he stood at the opposite end when the meetings were over.

“You have to be noticed. You’ve got to be approachable, but you have to know your facts,” Clark said. That shows lawmakers “you’re not a total nut case.”

With a $3.8 billion budget deficit, there’s no money in the Senate spending plan for libraries right now, and Clark won’t be around to plead with lawmakers to put it in. He used up all his vacation time last year and has to (apologies to Gov. Rick Scott) get back to work.

Wednesday morning, Clark met briefly with Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, a visit he’s been trying to nail down for months, he said.

Carroll expressed a great deal of interest in his fact sheet, Clark said, giving him hope that libraries may not be forgotten this year, even in his absence.

Greta Van Susteren headlines Scott inaugural event

Thursday, December 30th, 2010 by Dara Kam

FOX News anchor Greta Van Susteren will be the keynote speaker at Gov.-elect Rick Scott‘s inaugural event honoring women, his inaugural team announced this morning.

Van Susteren will headline the “Salute to Women in Leadership Breakfast” on Monday, the day before Scott is sworn in as Florida’ 45th governor.

The breakfast will “honor the contributions of many great Florida women, including the historic election of Jennifer Carroll as Florida’s next Lieutenant Governor and Pam Bondi, the state’s first woman elected to serve as Attorney General,” according to a press release issued by Scott’s inauguration team.

Bondi, a former Tampa prosecutor, is no stranger to Van Susteren. She frequently appeared on Van Susteren’s “On the Record” show as a legal analyst and got a shout-out from the FOX News host after defeating former state Sen. Dan Gelber in November.

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Scotts ‘Soarin’ at Epcot

Monday, December 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Gov.-elect Rick Scott was flying high at the second stop on the opening day of his inaugural celebrations before taking office on Jan. 4.

Scott, his wife Ann, their daughter Jordan and her husband Jeremy climbed aboard the popular “Soarin’” ride at Epcot accompanied by Arianna Davis and Mike Laelante, two children from Frontline Outreach, a program for inner city youth.

Earlier, Scott hosted a lunch at the Disney Yacht Club for some of his campaign volunteers and supporters where he reiterated his campaign pledges to shrink state government (“It’s too big”) and do away with regulations.
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Scott gets his guv on in hometown

Monday, December 27th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Gov.-elect Rick Scott’s inaugural festivities got underway this morning in his Naples hometown, a week before Scott officially takes the helm as Florida’s 45th governor on Jan. 4.

About 200 well-wishers crowded into a nippy courtyard as a Dixieland band played jazz at the Food & Thought Organic Market and Restaurant as Scott and Lt. Gov.-elect Jennifer Carroll shook hands, posed for pictures.

“Who’s ready to create 700,000 jobs? Who’s ready to get rid of all regulations that are killing jobs in this state? Who’s willing to use accountability budgeting to look at every state agency? Who’s ready to get that done?” Scott said, echoing his campaign refrain.

Scott reiterated his pledge to scrutinize state spending to make sure taxpayers are getting the best bang for their buck and got in a little president-bashing as well.

“We cannot continue to go down the path we’re on. We cannot continue to go down the path Barack Obama’s taking us…We are going to make sure we change how we run this state,” Scott promised.

Scott and Carroll and the newly elected Florida Cabinet are scheduled to make stops in Orlando and Clewiston today as party of four days of inaugural partying.

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Scott campaign welcomes Sink snooper

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Rick Scott’s campaign took a far different tack with a videographer on GOP gubernatorial candidate’s trail than Republican Congressional hopeful Allen West.

West, who’s challenging incumbent Rep. Ron Klein, supporters were videotaped pressuring a Democratic operative to leave a rally.

But Scott and running-mate Jennifer Carroll were unfazed by the young man with a video camera who shadowed the candidates throughout the first day of a week-long bus tour and apparently has been a constant presence on the campaign trail.

Carroll pointed out the man in the crowd at a barbecue lunch stop in Inverness where she and Scott handed out pulled pork sandwiches to dozens of supporters.

Carroll identified him to the crowd as a campaign worker for Scott’s Democratic opponent Alex Sink and invited him to join in the festivities. One of the GOP candidates’ staffers even offered him a bottle of water and a sandwich.

“Hopefully, you’ll be able to take some information back so she can run a government,” Carroll quipped.

At the next stop in The Villages, Carroll recognized him again and asked him to raise his hand. The videographer obliged.

“Show Alex Sink how government should be run,” Carroll advised.

Sink’s campaign referred questions about Scott’s tracker to the Florida Democratic Party.

“We as a policy don’t release his name – but I can tell you he works for the Florida Democratic Party not the Sink Campaign,” FDP spokesman Eric Jotkoff said in an e-mail.

Jennifer Carroll stumps for Scott in Delray Beach

Monday, September 27th, 2010 by George Bennett

DELRAY BEACH — Republican lieutenant governor candidate Jennifer Carroll delivered Rick Scott’s low-tax, less-government message to about 40 supporters this morning at Ellie’s 50′s Diner.

Noting that she supported Scott’s rival, Attorney General Bill McCollum, in the bitter Aug. 24 primary, Carroll said Republicans need to put aside differences and unite against Democrat Alex Sink in the governor’s race.

“Many of you were probably on the other side. But the stakes are too high for us to stay at home just to say that we don’t know the other guy too much so therefore we can’t support him. We know that the other side is for higher taxes. We know that the other side is for more government. We know that the other side is for less personal freedom. We know the other side is not for you to have the opportunities that we will provide for you. That’s the bottom line,” Carroll said.

Likely Scott running mate Jennifer Carroll is mom of Dolphins rookie

Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 by George Bennett

Nolan Carroll

Nolan Carroll

Our Mike Bender is reporting that Republican gubernatorial nominee Rick Scott is likely to name state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Fleming Island, as his running mate today.

Carroll, 51, served 20 years in the Navy and retired as a lieutenant commander aviation maintenance officer.

She was elected to the state House in 2003.

Jennifer Carroll

Jennifer Carroll

Her three children include Nolan Carroll II, a fifth-round draft pick by the Miami Dolphins this year. Post sports writer Ben Volin recently profiled Nolan Carroll, who overcame broken legs in high school and college to become an NFL draft pick.

Crist puts Dan Webster on list of U.S. Senate candidates

Thursday, August 20th, 2009 by Dara Kam

WebsterGov. Charlie Crist added former House Speaker Daniel Webster to the list of possible appointments to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez who announced his resignation earlier this month.

Webster is the seventh politician tapped by Crist to apply for the post, which he is leaving office after one term to pursue.

Webster served in the Florida legislature for two decades, winning election to the Florida House where he served as speaker from 1996-1998 before leaving for the state senate where he eventually became Majority Leader.

Webster, an engineer who owns a heating and air conditioning business in Orlando, is a favorite of conservative Republicans who have pressured Crist appoint him to fill Martinez’ seat. Webster actively supported Gov. Mike Huckabee in his presidential bid.

Crist has interviewed several candidates over the past several days:
- State Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Jacksonville, the legislature’s only black Republican;
- University of North Florida President John Delaney, Jacksonville’s former mayor and a long-time Crist supporter;
- Miami trial lawyer Bobby Martinez, who served as a U.S. Attorney, headed Crist’s transition team and was appointed to the state Board of Education by Gov. Jeb Bush and reappointed by Crist;
- George LeMieux, Crist’s former chief of staff who also managed his gubernatorial campaign and remains close to the governor.

He’s also considering at least two others:
- Jim Smith, a former Florida Cabinet member who served as both attorney general and secretary of state. Smith, who switched parties from Democrat to Republican, is now a top-tier Tallahassee lobbyist whose partner, Brian Ballard, is also his son-in-law and one of Crist’s chief advisors.
- Long-serving U.S. Rep. Bill Young, an Indian Shores Republican from Crist’s hometown of Pinellas County. Young is in his 20th term in Congress.

Crist adds Bill Young, LeMieux to list of U.S. Senate hopefuls

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 by Dara Kam

youngGov. Charlie Crist is screening long-serving U.S. Rep. C.W. “Bill” Young and former chief of staff George LeMieux to fill U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’ seat. Martinez quit before his first term ends in 2012.

Crist, who is leaving office after one term to replace Martinez himself, spent yesterday and today interviewing possible candidates – including state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, UNF president John Delaney, former U.S. Attorney Bobby Martinez and LeMieux, a former deputy attorney general under Crist. They’re all Republicans who presumably have no interest in challenging Crist, who is running against former House Speaker Marco Rubio in a GOP primary, for the seat next year.

Also on the list: former state attorney general and secretary of state Jim Smith, now a Tallahassee lobbyist.

Young is in his 20th term in Congress and is from Indian Shores near Crist’s St. Petersburg hometown in Pinellas County.

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