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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Editorial boards mighty unimpressed with George LeMieux pick



Tampa Tribune: In choosing his longtime political confidante and former chief of staff George LeMieux to fill Mel Martinez' seat in the U.S. Senate, Gov. Charlie Crist did what he usually does: what's best for Charlie....While no outrage, the choice of a political operative is hardly inspiring. Still, we wish Florida's new senator good luck.


Orlando Sentinal: It's also not hard to imagine Mr. LeMieux lending his ear to some interests more than others. An attorney, Mr. LeMieux's firm represents U.S. Sugar and Florida Power & Light, among other corporate clients. We hope he'll show better sense than extending them carte blanche.

And better judgment than when he steered Mr. Crist to select Jeff Kottkamp for lieutenant governor. Floridians can thank Mr. Martinez for this state of affairs. For no good reason he quit on them. And they can thank Mr. Crist, who in his choice of Mr. LeMieux again placed his interests above theirs.

Palm Beach Post: Then there's the issue of Gunster, the Fort Lauderdale-based firm where Mr. LeMieux is chairman. The Gunster tie was a problem in the deal to buy U.S. Sugar's land; Gunster represents U.S. Sugar, the governor pushed the deal and the terms favored the company. How will Mr. LeMieux vote on the farm bill, which includes the loan program that creates a price support for sugar?

With Florida at its most fragile since World War II, it is infuriating to have a governor who so clearly places his future above the state's. His mind is in Washington, and his body should have followed.

Florida Today: He named his former campaign manager, chief of staff and best buddy George LeMieux to the job in a display of cronyism that put his own political ambition ahead of the best interests of Florida residents. LeMieux will arrive in the Senate as it debates issues with huge implications for our nation and state, with health care reform topping the list. But he’s never held elected office, is not versed on the issues and knows nothing about Capitol Hill.

St Petersburg Times: But no one should confuse Crist's or LeMieux's political ambitions with what is in Florida's best interest. An appointee with congressional experience would have hit the ground running. But now Florida's junior senator is a Washington neophyte who will be a caretaker — and Crist proxy — in the midst of debate over health care, climate change and a rising federal deficit.

Like Martinez, who resigned after concluding his homesickness trumped his duty to the people of Florida, Crist has let his own personal ambition guide his judgment. How utterly disappointing for a man who likes to call himself the "People's Governor."

Tallahassee Democrat was neutral: So, clearly, there is no shortage of political motives for approving or disapproving of this appointment — which is regrettable largely in that Mr. Martinez left such a long time remaining in the term that voters had expected him to fill for six years. he next 14 months will be a sobering experience for Mr. LeMieux if he intends to rise above politics — if he is strong enough to be independent in that regard — and to prove himself a problem-solver and not just a place-holder.


[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:15pm]


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