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NY Times spotlights Meek in FL U.S. Senate campaign

Friday, February 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

It’s no secret that the Florida U.S. Senate race has captured the attention of the national media and is a crucial race for both parties.

But much of the focus has been on the GOP primary featuring Gov. Charlie Crist, who is leaving office after only one term to pursue the post, and former House Speaker Marco Rubio, the first Cuban-American speaker of the Florida House whose somber face ran on the cover of The New York Times Sunday magazine not long ago, prompting Crist’s campaign to dub him “New York Times Cover Boy.”

While Rubio and Crist slug it out (and it’s getting uglier every day), U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the Democrat who will likely face off against one of them in November, has been busily stumping around the state gathering petition signatures in the hopes of becoming the first U.S. Senate candidate from Florida ever to qualify by petition.

Read today’s New York Times article on Meek here.

Dems spoof state GOP credit card scandal with ‘priceless’ video

Friday, February 26th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Capitalizing on the scandal erupting over the state GOP’s credit card spending, national Democrats released a video take-off of the MasterCard “Priceless” television campaign.

The spoof highlights some of the Republican Party of Florida-issued credit card charges now-U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio made when Florida House Speaker, including $1,000 in repairs to his family mini-van.

“Getting your personal bills paid for by the Republican Party of Florida like Marco Rubio: Priceless,” the Democratic National Committee video mocks.

The state GOP may get some unwanted mail as a result of the “Priceless” satire.

“Want your bills paid for by the Republican Party of Florida? Just send them in. 420 E. Jefferson Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32301,” it concludes.

The DNC ad targets Rubio at a time when the once-long-shot candidate’s popularity is soaring while his GOP primary opponent Gov. Charlie Crist’s is on the wane.

Rubio tops Crist 47-44 in latest Quinnipiac poll; “Who would have thunk it?” says pollster

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 by George Bennett

UPDATE: Crist shrugged off the poll results this morning, telling reporters that his main responsibility was to govern and “fight for the people.” Rubio’s campaign sent out a press release announcing the results, but did not offer a reaction.

Marco Rubio, who once trailed Gov. Charlie Crist by 31 points in polling on the 2010 Republican Senate primary, now has a narrow lead in the race, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released this morning.

The poll shows former Florida House speaker Rubio with 47 percent to Crist’s 44 percent among Republicans, a lead within the poll’s margin of error.

The poll also finds Florida voters disapprove of President Obama’s job performance by a 49-to-45 percent margin.

In hypothetical general election matchups, Rubio tops Democratic Senate front-runner Kendrick Meek by a 44-35 margin while Crist tops Meek 48-36.

(more…)

U.S. Supremes gives biz thumbs up to sling mud

Thursday, January 21st, 2010 by Dara Kam

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that corporations and unions can spend as much as they want on “electioneering communications,” the negative ads targeting candidates.

The ruling could have a sweeping effect on Florida campaigns, especially in battleground races like the U.S. Senate GOP primary between Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

The suit was filed by a group behind Hillary Clinton-bashing ads in her U.S. Senate campaign.

The court decided in Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission that banning corporations and unions from paying for the ads equates to a chilling effect on free speech.

“There is no basis for the proposition that, in the political speech context, the government may impose restrictions on certain disfavored speakers. Both history and logic lead to this conclusion,” the ruling reads. “Political speech is so ingrained in this country’s culture that speakers find ways around campaign finance laws. Rapid changes in technology—and the creative dynamic inherent in the concept of free expression—counsel against upholding a law that restricts political speech in certain media or by certain speakers.”

Common Cause said the ruling “creates political crisis” by paving the way for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of cash on elections.

“The Roberts court today made a bad situation worse,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar said in a press release. “This decision allows Wall Street to tap its vast corporate profits to drown out the voice of the public in our democracy. “The path from here is clear: Congress must free itself from Wall Street’s grip so Main Street can finally get a fair shake.We need to change the way America pays for elections. Passing the Fair Elections Now Act would give us the best Congress money can’t buy.”

Jeb! backs Atwater

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Former Gov. Jeb Bush is supporting Senate President Jeff Atwater in his statewide run for chief financial officer, even though Atwater has a Republican opponent in the primary.

Atwater’s campaign released the announcement Wednesday, along with a link to a YouTube video in which Bush, still influential in GOP politics in Florida, says of Atwater, “It’s his life experience of being a committed family person, of being a successful businessman and also having served in positions of increasing responsibility in the Florida Legislature that have made Jeff uniquely qualified to handle this job.”

(more…)

Mavericky Meek: Crist not fit to lead

Friday, January 8th, 2010 by Dara Kam

meekU.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek held a roundtable with the Capitol press corps this morning and came out swinging at Gov. Charlie Crist.

Meek, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, slammed Crist, a Republican who’s losing traction in a GOP primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio, for his turn-around on abortion and his failed health care program that has been ignored by uninsured Floridians.

“Overall I think the governor’s a very nice person,” Meek, a former state legislator who is in his fourth term in Congress, began. “I don’t think he’s prepared to lead this state in the United States Senate. One, he doesn’t like to make a decision. Two, he’s very vague. And three, I believe he’s more politician than leader.”

(more…)

New poll: Crist, Rubio in dead heat

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist and former House Speaker Marco Rubio are in a dead heat in the GOP race for the U.S. Senate, according to a poll released this morning.

The Rasmussen Reports telephone survey found Crist and Rubio in a 43-43 percent tie among likely Republican primary voters.

Crist’s lead over Rubio dropped 10 percent in the same poll since August. And the governor’s popularity is at an all-time low, with just 19 percent of respondents having a “very favorable” opinion of him.

Earlier this year, Rubio, the first Cuban-American House Speaker, was considered a long-shot in the race.

But conservative support – including the endorsement of The Club for Growth and U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina – has rallied Rubio’s campaign and drawn national attention to the Florida primary, viewed as a test of the rising “Tea Party” movement and characterizing the fight for the control of the party between moderates and conservatives.

Crist and other GOP leaders have angered Republican conservative base voters who typically show up at the polls to vote in primaries.

This summer, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer – hand-picked by Crist – snubbed Rubio by endorsing Crist and discouraging primaries that he said weaken the party’s ability to win in the general election.

Crist alienated conservatives by applauding President Barack Obama’s stimulus package symbolized by the now-infamous “man-hug” with the Democratic president.

And he raised eyebrows in August when he appointed his longtime advisor and right-hand-man George LeMieux to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, who retired before his term ended.

The winner of next year’s primary is likely to face off against Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, who is gathering petition signatures to get onto the ballot.

GOP huddle hush-hush

Thursday, November 19th, 2009 by Dara Kam

The state GOP executive committee is huddling in a private meeting with RPOF Chairman Jim Greer appease demands from numerous county chairmen that he back down from what critics say are heavy-handed tactics.

Greer’s folks at Republican Party of Florida headquarters aren’t revealing anything about the meeting in Howey-in-the-Hills in Lake County. It’s the second meeting in as many weeks aimed at reuniting a splintered party made even more divided over the U.S. Senate race between Gov. Charlie Crist and ultra-conservative favorite former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Greer’s spokeswoman Katie Betta would not provide a list of attendees and said Greer probably won’t agree to an interview afterwards to debrief reporters on what went down.

“As far as the meeting goes, the Chairman has asked that we not release any information on the executive board retreat due to the confidential nature of the meeting,” Betta responded to a request for information in an e-mail. Greer “does not want to discuss the meeting,” she added.

Palm beach County GOP Chairman Sid Dinerstein can’t attend the GOP powwow because he has a Palm Tran meeting today. He said he thinks some board members will try to oust Greer, but the measure won’t succeed. Dinerstein has criticized Greer’s favoritism for Crist in the past but has said he does not favor booting Greer.

(more…)

Former Fla GOP chairman Slade endorses Dockery

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Tom Slade is backing Sen. Paula Dockery in her challenge against Attorney General Bill McCollum for governor.

Slade, who served as chairman from 1992-2000, is an unabashed critic of his own party and carries a considerable cachet among GOP insiders.

“McCollum is a nice guy, but I think he would be better in the U.S. Senate, where I think his skills are better suited. But I think Paula would do a better job of being governor. She’s got the kind of tenacity you need, and she’s got the knowledge,” Slade said in a press release.

Slade’s backing of Dockery, considered an underdog early in the race, comes as state GOP leaders gather in a secret session tomorrow to try to reunite their splintered party.

Several county leaders have asked for Chairman Jim Greer’s ouster and criticized what some call his heavy-handed tactics, including efforts to quash primary races and premature endorsements of McCollum and Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist is running against former House Speaker Marco Rubio, a GOP conservative sweetheart, for U. S. Senate.

Crist tells CNBC Florida population decline “not that big a deal”

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist performed as the Sunshine State’s chief pitch-man, blowing off Florida’s historic population loss and touting the fine weather in a CNBC interview this morning.

Florida saw a drop of 58,000 residents last year, the first population decrease since military residents left the state after World War II.

“It’s not that big a deal, to be honest with you,” Crist shrugged off the decline on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” show today.

The governor then launched into a Sunshine State sales pitch, touting declines in property taxes and property insurance rates and the weather.

“And it’s Florida. It’s a beautiful place. It’s a gorgeous day today down here in South Florida. You just can’t beat the Sunshine State,” said Crist, who is in Miami. Florida I really think is on the rise and it’s a great deal for an awful lot of people, too.”



Although Florida’s unemployment rate is nearly 11 percent, Crist was upbeat about the job market and pointed to Palm Beach County as a shining example.

Palm Beach County’s unemployment rate was 11.7 percent in July, one percentage point above the state average.

“Even in the Palm Beach County area where Scripps and Torrey Pines and some of these other scientific institutes have located, Max Planck…it’s been great for that area of the state,” Crist said. “We’re very pleased with the direction things are going. We wish they were better, don’t misunderstand me. But we’re not sitting still. We’re on the move. And I continue to be optimistic and encouraged about where we’re going.”

Crist, who drew the wrath of fellow Republicans by urging Congress to pass President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan, reversed that position on the health care reforms now being considered in Washington.

(more…)

What they’re saying about LeMieux and Crist

Friday, August 28th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Martinez

Martinez

U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez:“I congratulate George LeMieux for being appointed by the governor to fill the remainder of my term. George is bright, capable, and an accomplished
administrator. My staff and I stand ready to ensure a smooth transition.”

Rubio

Rubio

Former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who is running against Crist in the GOP primary to replace Martinez: “This is a disappointing pick for Florida. George LeMieux is a talented political operative and the governor’s best friend, but that doesn’t make him the right choice to represent Florida in the Senate. Governor Crist had a wealth of consistent and principled conservative candidates to choose from, all of whom would have been a reliable check and balance on the excesses of the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda.”

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate: “Governor Crist was afforded a high responsibility with this appointment. Instead, he treated this process like a mockery, politicizing his selection by flying around the state at taxpayers’ expense, touring major media markets and drawing this selection out. Well respected Floridians with a wealth of elected service experience from Congressman Clay Shaw to Mayor John Delaney to various Hispanic leaders were in a position to hit the ground running if appointed, but that possibility is now nonexistent.”

jimgreerRepublican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer: “Once again, Charlie Crist has demonstrated his commitment to serving Floridians, by appointing George LeMieux who is well qualified, a dedicated public servant, conservative Republican and an excellent choice!”

Progress Florida executive director Mark Ferrulo: “It’s shocking. We wonder why Gov. Crist didn’t just appoint himself if he was going to pick his former chief of staff and campaign ‘maestro’. “The so-called ‘People’s Governor’ has made clear through this appointment that he places personal loyalty and his own political benefit above the interests of Floridians.”

McCollum

McCollum

Attorney General Bill McCollum, a Republican running to replace Crist as governor: “I congratulate George LeMieux on his appointment as Florida’s U.S. Senator. I have known George for a long time, both as a friend and as a former Deputy Attorney General, a capacity in which he served this office
well. I wish him the best in serving the people of Florida in the U.S. Senate.”

Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Hari Sevugan: “With Florida’s economy in shambles, Charlie Crist could have selected a Senator who would be able to hit the ground running in Washington to tackle the problems that face Floridians. In appointing a political crony as a placeholder until he can run for Senate himself, Charlie Crist is using the Governorship to advance his own political ambitions rather than advancing the lives of the Floridians he was elected to serve.”

Wexler

Wexler

U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat from Boca Raton: “In short, George LeMieux will make an excellent Senator. I wish him great success and look forward to working with him in any way I can.”

Republican operative and political consultant Mac Stipanovich: “He was not the obvious choice.”

Hammer

Hammer

Marion Hammer, former NRA president who now lobbies for the same organization and the Unified Sportsmen of Florida: “The NRA and Unified Sportsmen of Florida are very pleased with Governor Crist’s appointment of George LeMieux as Florida’s new junior U.S. Senator. George is rated ‘A’ by the NRA and will be a strong supporter of the Second Amendment in the U.S. Senate. Gun owners can count on George LeMieux to fight to protect freedom and the Second Amendment.”

Florida Democratic Party spokesman Eric Jotkoff: “This is just one more example of the Republican leadership in Tallahassee putting cronyism and corruption above the people of our state. From Ray Sansom, to former lobbyist Bill McCollum, to George LeMieux, it is clear that we must stand together and pledge to end the Republican culture of cronyism and corruption in Tallahassee.”

Shaw

Shaw

Former U.S. Rep. Clay Shaw, who was a finalist on Crist’s list of possible Martinez replacements and for whom LeMieux once worked as an intern: “George is a very, very capable guy and I’m sure he’ll do a good job. He’s a quick study, he’s articulate, he’s very close to the governor. I think it’s a good choice.”

Bogdanoff

Bogdanoff

State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, active with LeMieux in Broward County GOP politics since the mid-1990s: “He’s a smart guy, politically savvy, a hard worker. There’s nothing negative to say about George….He’s certainly smart enough to wade through the issues.”

Fordham

Fordham

Kirk Fordham, head of the Everglades Foundation: “George LeMieux is the right pick for Florida. He has a deep understanding of a wide range of regional issues that are unique to Florida. When it comes to protecting the people’s water supply and restoring the Everglades, we couldn’t ask for a better ally than we’ll have in Senator George LeMieux.”

Crist adds 3 former Congressmen to ever-growing U.S. Senate list

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist added three more Florida politicians to his possible appointees to fill U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’ soon-to-be-vacated seat.

Former U.S. Reps. Mike Bilirakis, Lou Frey and Clay Shaw are now among the candidates Crist is considering, bringing his list to ten.

Shaw, a Fort Lauderdale Republican, served in Congress for more than 25 years. His district includes part of southern Palm Beach County.

Last week, Crist asked conservative favorite former House Speaker who later became a powerful state senator Daniel Webster to apply for the post. Crist is also considering former chief of staff George LeMieux, who ran Crist’s gubernatorial campaign and remains a close ally.

Crist said this weekend that he wants to fill the post by Sept. 8, the day when Congress reconvenes after a summer break.

Tomorrow, Crist will interview Shaw in South Florida, Bilirakis and former U.S. Rep. Bill Young in Tampa. He’ll also meet with Frey and former Florida Cabinet member Jim Smith, a Tallahassee lobbyist who served as both attorney general and secretary of state, in Tallahassee tomorrow, according to Crist spokeswoman Erin Isaac.

Crist, who is running in a GOP primary against former House Speaker Marco Rubio to replace Martinez, said previously “it is understood” that he’ll appoint someone who will not run against him next year.

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.

McCollum tops Sink for governor in latest Q-Poll

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Republican Attorney General Bill McCollum edged out Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, a Democrat, by 38-34 percent in the latest Quinnipiac University poll. Twenty percent of the state’s likely voters polled remain undecided.

That flip-flops Sink’s 38-34 percent lead among likely Florida voters two months ago. Sink remains relatively unknown to Floridians, according to the poll from Aug. 12-17 of 1,136 likely voters. Nearly two-thirds of those polled said they don’t know enough about her to have an opinion of her job performance.

McCollum and Sink are both leaving office after one term in pursuit of the governor’s mansion. Gov. Charlie Crist is also vacating after one term to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, who stepped down before his first term in Washington is complete.

The poll also shows Crist with a healthy 55-26 percent lead over GOP primary opponent, former House Speaker Marco Rubio. In June, Crist held a 54-23 percent margin over Rubio.

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.

Crist meets with LeMieux as he considers U.S. Senate pick

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009 by Dara Kam

lemieux1Gov. Charlie Crist is meeting with former chief of staff George LeMieux today as he ponders his replacement for U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez who resigned from office earlier this month.

The hastily-added meeting with LeMieux, a close ally who headed Crist’s gubernatorial campaigns and is now the chairman of the largest law firm in the state, raises speculation about whether the governor will tap LeMieux to fill in for Martinez for the remainder of his term.

Crist is seeking the office himself, running against former House Speaker Marco Rubio in a GOP primary next year.

Last week, Crist asked for applications for the temporary post from U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, former attorney general and secretary of state Jim Smith and former U.S. Atttorney Bobby Martinez. Diaz-Balart dropped out of consideration late Monday.

Crist met with Martinez yesterday before hurriedly asking state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, a Republican from Jacksonville and the only black Republican in the legislature, and University of North Florida President John Delaney. He visited with the Jacksonville pair in their hometown yesterday as well.

Crist adds two Jax officials to Martinez replacement list

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist added two names to the list of candidates he’s interviewing to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez: state Rep. Jennifer Carroll and University of North Florida President John Delaney, both of Jacksonville.

carrollCarroll is the only black Republican serving in the state legislature. delaney-2Delaney was formerly the mayor of Jacksonville and a long-time Crist supporter.

Crist plans to interview both tomorrow in Jacksonville. Neither was among possible candidates speculated on by political insiders around the state.

Crist today met with Bobby Martinez, a Miami lawyer who oversaw his transition when the governor took office in 2007 and a former U.S. prosecutor.

The governor, who is running in a GOP primary next year against former House Speaker Marco Rubio to take the seat himself, must appoint someone to fulfill the remainder of Martinez’ term, which ends in January 2012.

Crist also asked U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Jim Smith, a former state attorney general and secretary of state who is now a lobbyist, to apply for the post. Diaz-Balart pulled out yesterday and a visit with Smith has yet to be scheduled.

Crist U.S. Senate list not limited to Martinez and Smith

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist is expected to request more candidates to apply to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez after initially asking three GOP allies to apply.

U.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart withdrew his name from the list late last evening, the day before Crist is scheduled to meet with another Hispanic potential replacement, former U.S. prosecutor Bobby Martinez.

Crist will meet with Martinez at the Miami airport at 1 p.m. today.

Crist hasn’t scheduled an interview yet with former secretary of state and attorney general Jim Smith – now a Tallahassee lobbyist – the last of the three candidates the governor asked last week to apply for the job.

But he said today the “short list” isn’t limited to just Smith and Martinez.

Crist called Bobby Martinez a “brilliant man” and “a dear friend and a loyal ally.”

But, he added, “There are others who we’ll be interviewing, too. And I look forward to the process.”

Crist, who is running against former House Speaker Marco Rubio in a GOP primary in November to replace Martinez, cited integrity rather than someone who would mirror his own votes Congress as his top priority in making the selection.

“I have to appoint somebody who in my belief number one has great integrity, will serve our fellow Floridians with honor and will do an incredible job of making sure that we continue to be well represented in both seats in the United States Senate,” Crist told reporters after a morning meeting with educators at the governor’s mansion. “Those are my primary considerations.”

Lincoln Diaz-Balart bows out of U.S. Senate consideration

Monday, August 17th, 2009 by Dara Kam

diaz-balartU.S. Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart withdrew his name for consideration to replace U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez this evening.

Diaz-Balart issued a statement this evening saying he told Gov. Charlie Crist to remove him from the short list of three to fill in for Martinez until next year’s November election.

“I have informed Governor Charlie Crist this evening that I will not be submitting the Questionnaire for appointment to the Senate he kindly asked me to consider submitting. It was a great honor to be considered by Governor Crist for appointment to the United States Senate. I thank him for his kind gesture of confidence. After giving the Governor’s request serious consideration and deliberation, I have decided to remain in the U.S. House of Representatives fighting for the causes which I deeply believe in,”‬‪‬‪‬‪ the statement reads.

That leaves Tallahassee lobbyist Jim Smith, a Democrat-turned Republican who served on the Florida Cabinet as both Attorney General and Secretary of State, and former U.S. prosecutor Bobby Martinez.

Crist is scheduled to meet with Martinez tomorrow at the Miami airport at 1 p.m.

Crist is leaving office after one term to run for the seat and is being challenged in a GOP primary by former House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Greer: No one knew Martinez would quit until he quit

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009 by Dara Kam

chairman_greerGov. Charlie Crist and top GOP officials didn’t know of U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez’s decision to resign early until the senator issued a press release on Friday, Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer told reporters this morning.

“There is no one who actually knew the event was actually going to take place until immediately prior to or immediately surrounding that statement,” Greer said.

Although rumors that Martinez would step down early circulated for more than six months prior to his resignation, Greer said Martinez repeatedly assured him he was not quitting. Sort of.

“He would say, ‘No I’m not resigning. Tomorrow,” Greer said.

And despite speculation that Martinez quit early to make it easier for Crist to succeed him, Greer said the senator quit to spend more time with his family and not to help the governor.

(more…)

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