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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Al Cardenas on the need for an early Florida primary, U.S. Senate race and LeMieux-Crist



cardenas.jpgThe Buzz caught up with Al Cardenas, former chairman of the Republican Party of Florida and now chair of the American Conservative Union.

On early presidential primary: He supports Florida going fifth in the nation, in late February, and hopes the state can work things out with the RNC. "I think that's doable," he said.

On the GOP U.S. Senate primary: He's staying neutral for now, citing his role with ACU. (Perhaps, though, Cardenas learned the lesson from urging Marco Rubio to drop out of what once looked like a quixotic challenge to Charlie Crist.) Cardenas thinks Mike Haridopolos will have an early money advantage but said all three major candidates -- including George LeMieux and a likely Adam Hasner -- have low name recognition so that evens things.

He thinks incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is vulnerable but will likely have more money at his disposal. "He's an old pro and he's been to this rodeo before. I'm sure he'll wage a competitive race. How the presidential race shapes up in Florida will have major bearing on the outcome of the U.S. Senate race."

Satisfied with the current crop of Republican candidates? "The answer to that will only shape up as the race develops. It's too early to tell."

On LeMieux's ties to Crist: "I'm sure he's aware he's going to have to handle that issue effectively if he's going to have a chance. He obviously thinks it's a manageable or he wouldn't be running. The governor has his political points of view and George will have his. I think it's appropriate to ask if they coincide."

[Last modified: Wednesday, April 13, 2011 11:36am]


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