George LeMieux Makes Sense for Rick Scott as Lieutenant Governor

By: Jeff Henderson | Posted: June 21, 2013 9:20 AM

George LeMieux

George LeMieux | Credit: politicallypersonal.com

Buzz is building that Gov. Rick Scott could choose former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux as lieutenant governor -- and the idea makes a lot of sense for both Florida Republicans.

LeMieux accompanied Scott to France this week for the Paris Air Show. While over there, LeMieux praised Scott for bringing jobs to Florida. This has set tongues wagging that LeMieux could be a contender to be Scott’s lieutenant governor, a position which has remained vacant since Jennifer Carroll resigned back in March.

At first glance, this makes little sense. LeMieux has never won elected office, does not have much of a political base and his bid to challenge U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., went nowhere. LeMieux also has a number of ties to former Gov. Charlie Crist, the former Republican who is now one of the leading contenders to take Scott on next year as a Democrat.

But LeMieux brings some assets to the table for Scott. He comes from Broward County and could help the governor in that populous area. Scott only took 33 percent of Broward back in 2010 when he took on Alex Sink.

LeMieux has also deftly handled his connections with Crist. When he ran for the Senate in 2012, LeMieux would go out of his way to express his disappointment in Crist, despite their past ties, and he would also add that many Republicans across the state shared the same feelings. If Republicans want to continue to attack Crist’s trustworthiness, LeMieux would make an ideal running mate for Scott.

Despite his ties to Crist, LeMieux could help Scott round up conservatives, some of whom remain dissatisfied with the governor over agreeing to accept federal money for the Obamacare-mandated Medicaid expansion. During his short -- less than a year and a half -- time in the Senate, LeMieux focused on fiscal issues, calling for the federal government to return to its 2007 budget. At the very least, Republicans won’t be turned off with having LeMieux on the ticket as opposed to, say, a Democrat like Orange County Schools Superintendent Barbara Jenkins.

LeMieux also brings something else to the table -- a gift for political attacks. Traditionally, the running mate’s job is to go after the opponents. Scott is down in the polls and already the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) is launching daily attacks against Crist. During the 2012 election, LeMieux bombarded fellow Republican Connie Mack with attacks. Many of the same attacks LeMieux used were picked up by Nelson in the general election. With the Republicans looking to drill the Democrats next year, LeMieux has already shown he has no problem throwing mud when he needs to.

One other factor works in LeMieux’s favor. He could do a credible job as lieutenant governor and, if something happens to Scott, as governor. During her bumpy ride as lieutenant governor, Carroll often showed poor judgement and Scott often seemed exasperated by her actions. With his experience as Crist’s chief of staff and in the Senate, LeMieux is a political pro. He won’t make unforced errors the way Carroll did.

For many politicians, being lieutenant governor would be a demotion. Maybe not for LeMieux. He yearns to remain politically active as his activities at the LeMieux Center for Public Policy at Palm Beach Atlantic University demonstrate. Despite his time in the Senate, LeMieux remains unknown to most Florida voters. Being Scott’s lieutenant governor will help LeMieux become better established. If Scott pulls off a political comeback, LeMieux will be able to claim some of the credit.

Remember, LeMieux is only 44. He’s young for a politician but the Republican bench is starting to get a little crowded -- and some of the other GOP leaders he has to keep an eye on are the same age or younger. The likes of Jeff Atwater, Will Weatherford, Adam Putnam, Ron DeSantis and Tom Rooney could be looking to move up the Republican escalator. LeMieux starts at a disadvantage to some of these other Republicans if he wants to return to the Senate in 2016 or 2018. If he wants another shot at the Senate, LeMieux needs to do something to remain visible and help his standing with the voters, especially his fellow Republicans. In short, LeMieux has reasons to take the position if Scott offers it to him.

Tallahassee freelance political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis exclusively for Sunshine State News.

Comments (10)

11:52AM JUN 24TH 2013
This is conjecture on my part, but Gov. Scott will leave the position vacant for as long as he can. No time-frame is specified for him to fill the position, and it's widely viewed as a "do-nothing" job. Which is why I'm still in favor of Tim Tebow. The Lt. Gov's job would leave him plenty of time to play football, and Florida would have an NFL football player as Lt. Gov. Imagine the media coverage we would get. It would be great! Think about it.
Thomas Phillips
11:00PM JUN 21ST 2013
This must be a joke. The guy has NO standing with the conservative base. Since he has never won an election---he wouldn't help in Broward and by the way trying to fair better in a heavily Democrat county is not a path to victory. The base is already upset about the Governor embracing Obamacare---now he's going to pick the guy who persuaded the prior Governor to embrace Obama's stimulus plan? Remember when LeMieux said he is a "Charlie Crist Republican"? That says it all.
11:35AM JUN 22ND 2013
To Thomas Phillips, I agree with you. I don't want Lemeiux. But remember this is just a reporter's conjecture. I doubt Scott is going to appoint a moderate.
4:27PM JUN 21ST 2013
I am a big fan of Rick Scott. Unfortunately, he has destroyed his relationship with the conservative base with:

Wanting Obamacare in Florida
Killing the Parrent Trigger Bill
Cowering before the Teachers Union (who WILL NOT vote for him)

He is listening to all the wrong, elitist consultants who think they know what is in every voters mind. Governing by poll is a loser in the end for Floridians.

The trial ballon over the Democrat on this site last week was the last straw for many.
11:33AM JUN 22ND 2013
The Senate killed the Parent Trigger Bill. Scott did NOT cower before the Teachers Unions. He gave them things they needed, but not what they wanted.

And last of all, the economy is growing, unemployment is dropping. What the heck do you want. Please appreciate what Scott is doing for the economy, that's what he ran on . . .and that's what he is doing.

Go Rick Scott!!
5:59PM JUN 21ST 2013
I believe it shows that he is having trouble finding anyone to take the position.
Keep Florida Free
9:58AM JUN 21ST 2013
Allen West! Allen West! Allen West!
9:32AM JUN 24TH 2013
11:29AM JUN 22ND 2013
We need Allen West in the Senate. :)
6:00PM JUN 21ST 2013
West is way to smart for this administration.

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