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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.

West slams door on U.S. Senate run

Monday, August 22nd, 2011 by Dara Kam

U.S. Rep. Allen West has officially shut the door on a U.S. Senate run and will instead seek reelection to his current seat, West said in a statement issued today.

The outspoken West, a tea party idol from Plantation and the only Republican in the Congressional Black Caucus, recently made news when he called himself a modern-day Harriet Tubman during an interview with FoxNews’ Bill O’Reilly.

“Over the last several weeks, numerous leaders of the Florida Republican Party, including current and past elected officials, have spoken to me about the race for the United States Senate. Out of respect, I was willing to listen,” West said in the release.

“I have been given one of the highest honors to serve in the House of Representatives and I will continue to serve the citizens in that capacity. I will not seek the Republican nomination for the United States Senate in 2012. With regard to my future, the only goal I have is to do my very best to represent the constituents of the Congressional District and to restore the exceptionalism of our nation.”

Last week, West told reporters the door was open “a crack” to the possibility that he would run, saying it would be disrespectful to supporters to “slam the door in their face.”

LeMieux fares better than Haridopolos on conservative talk show

Monday, June 6th, 2011 by Dara Kam

Despite differences of opinion, U.S. Senate candidate George LeMieux managed to stay on the air with conservative talk-show host Ray Junior this evening, unlike one of LeMieux’ GOP primary opponents, Senate President Mike Haridopolos.

Junior tossed Haridopolos off his show last week for refusing to answer whether he’s vote for or against U.S. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan‘s spending plan.

After a long back-and-forth about commuter rail and SunRail, Junior asked LeMieux the same question.

“Should I give you a five minute answer?” quipped LeMieux, who served 16 months as U.S. senator after being appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist to fill a vacancy created by Mel Martinez. “I would have voted for it.”

LeMieux gave a somewhat more rambling response to query about whether or not he supports the Fair Tax proposal that would replace federal income taxes with a national sales tax.

“I think there’s a lot of good things about it,” LeMieux began.

Junior credited LeMieux with knowing enough about Fair Tax to talk about it, and gave him a high grade at the end of the show, but not before putting him on the spot about Charlie Crist, who called LeMieux “the maestro.” The pair’s careers were closely linked until Crist left the Republican party for a losing independent bid for the U.S. Senate last year.

“When did you discover Charlie Crist was a dirtbag?” Junior, who has dubbed himself “America’s loose cannon,” asked.

LeMieux didn’t bite.

“I would not say Charlie Crist is a dirt bag. I would not say anything negative about him,” LeMieux insisted, despite repeated goading by Junior. “Charlie Crist is my friend. I have taken a pledge not to say anything negative about him. I don’t think it’s productive.”

Despite refusing to engage in Crist-bashing, Junior, who also bragged about throwing now-U.S. Rep. Daniel Webster off his show during the 2010 campaign season, gave LeMieux an overall thumbs-up.

“I thought I was going to have to kick him off. He did good. ‘Cause he answered the damn questions,” he said.

Senate prez booted off conservative talk show

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011 by Dara Kam

Senate President Mike Haridopolos is the big cheese in his chamber but apparently not so much on conservative talk show host Ray Junior‘s turf.

Junior cut short a telephone interview with Haridopolos, who is running for U.S. Senate in what could be a brutal GOP primary, because the Merritt Island Republican refused to answer whether he would vote for U.S. House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan’s budget if elected.

As he did with The Palm Beach Post’s reporter George Bennett earlier this week, Haridopolos sidestepped questions about how he would vote on Ryan’s controversial spending plan.

Among the non-answers Haridopolos gave: “I’m not in the U.S. Senate but I am in the Florida Senate.”

After repeatedly asking Haridopolos to answer the question, an exasperated Junior wound up the interview.

“Get him off my phone. I don’t want anything to do with this guy. Get rid of him,” he told an aide.

Crist: I’m the only candidate who’ll stand up for Social Security

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 by Dara Kam

Who’s a flip-flopper now?

After weeks of taking heat from GOP opponent Marco Rubio (and Democrat candidate U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek) in his quest for the U.S. Senate, independent Gov. Charlie Crist said Rubio can’t seem to make up his mind where he stands on the issue.

Crist said the former House Speaker changed his stand “three or four times in the past four months” about privatizing Social Security.

“It’s hard to keep up. But obviously he’s all over the map as it relates to Social Security,” Crist told reporters this afternoon. “The seniors of our state deserve to have somebody who will protect and will preserve Social Security. I’m the only candidate in the race who is committed to doing so.”

(more…)

Crist wouldn’t be where he is today without RPOF, former chairman says

Friday, April 23rd, 2010 by Dara Kam

Gov. Charlie Crist wouldn’t be the political superstar he is today without the state GOP’s support, former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Al Cardenas said.

Cardenas took over as the head of the RPOF shortly after Crist made his first U.S. Senate bid in 1998. Incumbent U.S. Bob Graham trounced Crist in that race. Two years later, Crist ran for education commissioner and won with 54 percent of the vote.

“When he was given an opportunity to rebuild his political career, the party almost single-handedly funded his campaign for commissioner of education and revived his career,” Cardenas said. “He’s done very well on his own efforts but never independent of what the party’s been able to do for him.”

Based on the RPOF’s assistance to Crist in each of his campaigns, Cardenas said, Crist ought to “either stay in the process and try to win the primary or do what Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan and George Bush and everybody else has done who didn’t win the nomination and support the ticket.”

Florida candidates owe fealty to their parties, Cardenas said.

“There are some states where elected officials do their own thing and the party is not very active and there are others where a majority status has been built on the shoulders of thousands of donors and contributors,” he explained. “We happen to be the type of state where the party literally jump-starts people’s careers. When you live in that environment, you have to have a different loyalty approach to the party.”

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.

Could Crist’s money men legal woes harm him?

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009 by Dara Kam

National GOP staff breathed a sigh of relief upon Gov. Charlie Crist’s entree into the U.S. Senate race because they believed the governor’s prolific fundraising talents would mean they wouldn’t have to lend a helping hand financially to his campaign.

But that was before three of Crist’s top fund-raisers were targeted in federal investigations in the past nine months.

And now a fourth, Jupiter sports agent and real estate investor Marc Roberts, is facing a federal lawsuit alleging he defrauded a business partner out of $100 million to support his own “lavish personal lifestyle.”

Crist has “never discriminated” in whom he takes money from, said a former state Republican Party staffer with knowledge of Crist’s fund raising. “Now he’s facing the consequences of not being careful. And it raises questions about his judgment.”

Read the whole story here.

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