Friday, August 28, 2009

New Senator From Florida

Governor Charlie Crist, Republican of Florida, has announced the appointment of George LeMieux, to complete the U.S. Senate term to which fellow Republican Mel Martinez was elected in 2004.

Martinez had already taken himself out of the 2010 race, and Crist had already entered that Senate race, when Martinez surprised everyone on August 7 by stating that he would resign the Senate seat early, as soon as Crist appointed a successor.

In theory, Crist could have resigned as governor, and arranged to have Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottkamp appoint Crist to the Senate. But Crist presumably knows that voters have reacted unfavorably to other governors who have tried that.

Otherwise, the worst-case scenario for Crist would be to give a leg up to a potential rival for the Senate seat, by appointing, and thereby giving Senate experience to, someone who might run against him in the Republican primary.

In LeMieux, a former aide to Crist, it looks as though the governor has found a safe choice, who will do nothing that might derail Crist's candidacy.

LeMieux, a 40-year-old lawyer, was deputy to Crist when the future governor served as Florida's attorney general. He also worked on Crist's gubernatorial campaign, and as chief of staff to the governor. LeMieux has been active in Republican politics, and has chaired the party in Broward County. But he has never been elected to public office.

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