Republicans Miller and Buchanan Leave Door Open to Challenge Nelson

While Miller meets with NRSC, Buchanan slams Harry Reid and Dem Senate
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 8, 2011 3:55 AM

Vern Buchanan and Craig Miller

Vern Buchanan and Craig Miller

This week two prominent Florida Republicans -- U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan and former Ruth's Chris CEO Craig Miller -- inched closer to jumping into the already crowded primary to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in 2012.

Miller ran in the Republican primary last year to face then-U.S. Rep. Suzanne Kosmas for her Central Florida congressional seat. Then-state Rep. Sandy Adams, who would eventually beat Kosmas in the general election, won the primary with 30 percent. Former Winter Park City Commissioner Karen Diebel came in second with 29 percent and Miller third with 28 percent.

Miller was up in Washington this week, where he met with advocacy groups and officials from the National Republican Senate Committee. Jon Miller (no relation), a spokesman for Craig Miller, informed Sunshine State News Tuesday that Miller is “seriously considering a run for the U.S. Senate.”

“As someone who has spent a lifetime creating jobs and putting capital to work, he sees an opening for a non-career politician/businessman to enter this race and talk to the citizens of Florida about real solutions,” added Jon Miller. “As someone who worked his way from the dishroom to the boardroom, along with serving his country in Vietnam, Craig connects to voters from all walks of life. He seeks to be a citizen statesman, like our founders intended, not a career politician. He is eyeing the first week of July at making a decision on this race.”

While Buchanan has left the door open to entering the Republican field, the Florida congressman, who was first elected in 2006 and serves on the powerful Ways and Means Committee, has done little to lay the foundation for such a campaign.

Buchanan, however, did take aim at the Senate, which is controlled by the Democrats, arguing that the upper chamber is doing little on the pressing matters of the day.

“The stakes are enormous, and the Senate is missing in action,” said Buchanan on Monday. “For too long, Leader Reid and others in his chamber have sat on the sidelines, turning a blind eye to our country’s financial woes. Whether it’s keeping Medicare solvent, cutting reckless spending, or ending the spiral of joblessness in America, the Senate has failed to lead. We need less talk and more action if we’re ever to remove the burden of debt that weighs so heavily upon us and future generations.”

The comments echo harsh words that Buchanan made Monday when he lashed out at the Senate during an interview on Fox News.

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Miller and Buchanan could be joining what is an increasingly crowded field of candidates looking to challenge Nelson. Other candidates include former U.S. Sen. George LeMieux, state Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, businessman and retired Army officer Mike McCalister who ran for governor in 2010, former congressional candidate Bill Fisher, businessman and former congressional candidate Ron McNeil, engineer and businessman Ron Rushing, and physician Mirand Sharma. Republicans still considering entering the race include businessman Nick Loeb who ran for the Legislature in 2010.

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (850) 727-0859 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.



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