A blog handle for George LeMieux
The Governor's Mansion was packed Thursday evening for an emotional and humorous goodbye party for George LeMieux, Gov. Charlie Crist's chief of staff, who left the administration New Year's Day and will continue to advise his ex-boss and his successor, Eric Eikenberg.
Some of the funniest material was provided in absentia by Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, who wrote a letter read by his chief of staff, Larry Ringers. "The way you handle yourself has led me to say on many occasions that you were the oldest person your age I've ever met," Kottkamp wrote of LeMieux.
"I hope you'll also take some time away from all the money you will make to defend the administration in the press and in the blogs," he said. "I've been thinking of a blog name for you. 'The Maestro' is too obvious, as is 'La-Moo'. I have decided on 'Hail to the Chief,' since you have served the governor and citizens of this state with such distinction ... The question which undoubtedly lingers in the back of your mind is this: Will I have the same access to the governor now that I am no longer part of the office? The answer is simple: No."
Everybody laughed, but few probably seriously believed it. The crowd included LeMieux's parents; his law partners-in-waiting at his firm, Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart; CFO Alex Sink; state agency heads (Bob Butterworth, Kurt Browning, Mike Sole); both legislative chiefs of staff (David Coburn, Bob Ward); at least one former chief of staff (Kathleen Shanahan); and a number of lobbyists (Fred Baggett, Travis Blanton, Gus Corbella, Hayden Dempsey, Wayne Malaney and Greg Turbeville).
LeMieux gave all the credit to others, especially his top assistant, Diane Moulton, as "the glue" that holds things together. He couldn't resist recalling all that talk about how he supposedly wasn't good enough to run a statewide campaign. "We were told that we were not the A-team, right Arlene?" he said, turning to Arlene DiBenigno. "And 31 points later, we won the primary."