Florida's U.S. Senate Candidates Turn Up the Wild and Woolly
Around the State
While most Floridians are paying attention to the hot weather and the Miami Heat’s pursuit of the NBA title, and most pundits are focused on the presidential race, the attacks are already flying in the Senate race.
For the moment, Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson is keeping his head down as he prepares to seek a third term in the U.S. Senate, but some of the leading Republican candidates are already going for his throat -- and each other's.
Former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner’s team, which had been firing away at state Senate President Mike Haridopolos in recent weeks, turned its focus this week to another Republican rival -- former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux. The Hasner team jumped on LeMieux for his close ties to the man who appointed him to a 16-month tenure in the U.S. Senate -- former Gov. Charlie Crist. Crist remains persona non grata among Republicans in the Sunshine State for abandoning the GOP to continue his bid for the U.S. Senate in 2010 with no party affiliation.
"George LeMieux has a record of advocating for stimulus, bailouts and energy taxes, and attacking conservatives who stood in his way," said Rick Wilson, an adviser and spokesman for the Hasner campaign, on Friday. "This is George LeMieux's real public record, and it's far different than the 16 inconsequential months he spent as Charlie Crist's hand-picked senator."
The Hasner camp also forwarded a web video they released in May attacking LeMieux.
Also on Friday, the Hasner camp attacked LeMieux in a fund-raising e-mail sent out to supporters.
“The Washington establishment is at it again,” noted the Hasner campaign, pointing to reports that came out on Wednesday that 12 Republican U.S. senators -- including John McCain of Arizona, Susan Collins of Maine and Chuck Grassley of Iowa -- will be holding a fund-raiser for their former collegiate later in the month. One of the other hosts for the event will be Scott Reed, the Republican strategist best known for leading Bob Dole’s campaign back in 1996.
“Won't they ever learn?” demanded the Hasner team. “George LeMieux served as Charlie Crist's campaign manager, chief of staff, and closest political adviser for nearly two decades. LeMieux also helped shape many of Charlie Crist's liberal policies, and together they tried to undo much of Jeb Bush's legacy here in Florida. Now the same Washington power-brokers that supported Charlie Crist and helped fund his attacks against Marco Rubio, are supporting his ‘junior partner,’ George LeMieux.”
While Hasner concentrated his fire on his fellow Republican, LeMieux kept his attacks aimed at the Democrats this week.
“When I was in the Senate, I voted against Obamacare and backed the legal challenge to it. Senator Bill Nelson voted for Obamacare and was one of its most outspoken cheerleaders,” noted LeMieux on Wednesday. “I voted against Obamacare because I believe that Washington, D.C., should respect the Constitution, our individual liberty, and states’ rights. I believe the legislation is irresponsible, as our nation faces a $14 trillion debt, and I know Obamacare is hindering job growth and our economic recovery.
“Promises that were made by supporters, such as lower health-care costs, expanded choice, and the ability to keep your current provider, are all proving untrue. In fact, Obamacare is raising health-care premiums and reducing choice, while as many as 78 million Floridians will lose their employer health coverage,” added LeMieux. “Today, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing oral arguments on Florida’s challenge to Obamacare. Obamacare and its individual mandate is an unconstitutional violation of both states’ rights and our individual rights, and I am confident that it will be overturned, as Judge Roger Vinson ruled last October. Floridians and all Americans will be better off for it.”
LeMieux also turned his fire on the federal bailout of the auto industry this week, labeling it an example of how Washington is broken. He also bashed the Obama administration for its economic policies.
“I’ve often said that what surprised me most about serving in the U.S. Senate was that many senators have been elected for decades, just continuing to spend and run up trillions in debt. These senators walk around the Capitol like this is normal behavior. It’s not normal. Washington, D.C., is bizarre and it’s broken,” LeMieux noted on Thursday. “The auto bailout is a perfect example of the broken Washington, D.C., mentality. The president’s National Economic Council has released a report that noted taxpayers are set to lose $14 billion from the auto bailout. With a $14 trillion debt, one would think this would be a disappointment and concern for our elected leaders; however, the Obama administration is celebrating the news because they expected taxpayers to lose even more. Only in Washington, D.C., is losing ‘only $14 billion’ considered good news.
“America is on the precipice of a financial disaster,” insisted LeMieux. “We must fix Washington and get serious about stopping wasteful spending and balancing the budget by electing solutions-oriented leaders with common sense and the courage to do what’s right.”
Haridopolos, who has drawn more than his share of fire from Hasner and conservatives in recent weeks for not strongly backing the federal budget proposal backed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., also targeted Obama and Nelson. The state Senate president looked to bash the Democrats on Medicare and called once again for repealing the federal health-care law.
“It's time for Nelson to come clean and admit that he and his party have broken the generational contract in favor of bigger government entitlements and borrowing,” said Haridopolos on Thursday. “Bill Nelson should be ashamed of himself and come clean about his plans to destroy Medicare for our seniors at a time when they can least afford it."
Other candidates for the Republican nomination include businessman and retired Army officer Mike McCalister who ran for governor in 2010, conservative engineer and businessman Ron Rushing, former congressional candidate Bill Fisher, businessman and former congressional candidate Ron McNeil, and physician Mirand Sharma. Republicans still considering entering the race include U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, businessman Craig Miller who ran for Congress back in 2010, and businessman Nick Loeb who ran for the Legislature in 2010.
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (850) 727-0859 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (850) 727-0859 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.