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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.

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.

McCalister tries to be tea party alternative to ‘Tallahassee Triplets’ in GOP Senate primary

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011 by George Bennett

McCalister

Florida’s 2012 Republican U.S. Senate primary so far has been a three-way contest between state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former appointed Sen. George LeMieux and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner.

But with polls suggesting roughly two-thirds of GOP primary voters are up for grabs, retired U.S. Army Col. Mike McCalister is hoping direct-mail money and tea party buzz can put him in the running. McCalister — whose ultra-low budget 2010 gubernatorial campaign ($8,422 in reported expenditures) got a surprising 10.1 percent in the 2010 GOP primary against Rick Scott and Bill McCollum — has lined up Washington mailhouse Base Connect to raise money and signed veteran GOP operatives Buzz Jacobs and John Yob to advise his 2012 campaign.

Jacobs and Yob both worked on the 2008 John McCain campaign. Yob last year advised unsuccessful tea party Senate-seekers Sharron Angle in Nevada and Christine O’Donnell in Delaware as well as Michigan outsider-turned-Gov. Rick Snyder.

Disparaging Hasner, LeMieux and Haridopolos as the “Tallahassee Triplets,” Jacobs says McCalister “has all the qualities of a candidate that will resonate with Tea Party, Project 9/12, and conservative grassroots Republicans.”

Base Connect is the direct-mail firm used by U.S. Rep. Allen West, R-Plantation, whose 2010 campaign was marked by stupendous money-raising but also a fairly high burn rate for mail expenditures.

The GOP’s Gen X primary for Senate

Friday, March 25th, 2011 by George Bennett

UPDATE — St. Pete Times’ Adam Smith reports Mack will NOT run for Senate in 2012

U.S. Rep. Connie Mack, R-Cape Coral, appears poised to launch a 2012 U.S. Senate campaign this morning in Fort Myers and set up what could be a primary battle with four Generation X Republicans vying for the right to challenge pre-Boomer Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

In addition to the 43-year-old Mack, 41-year-old state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, R-Merritt Island, is in the race and 41-year-old former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner of Boca Raton has set up an exploratory committee. Former appointed U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, who’s 41, is also considered a likely GOP candidate.

The four Gen Xers are considered the leading Republican candidates, but 59-year-old Mike McCalister, a retired Air Force colonel who got 10.1 percent in last year’s GOP governor primary, has also announced a campaign.

Nelson, 68, was elected in 2000 after Mack’s father retired from the Senate.

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