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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

George LeMieux announces for U.S. Senate



"I'm in," George LeMieux told us, in announcing his candididacy for U.S. Senate. "I'm in because the country and our government is on the risk of failure. This is a crisis. I saw it up close. If we don't rein in the spending we're going to melt the economy. I can't stand by on the sidelines and let that happen."

What sets him apart from other Republican candidates, LeMieux said, is that he's already has 16 months of experience in the Senate. He's seen the problems up close and offered conservative solutions, but wasn't in Washington "long enough to be part of the problem."

His long association with former Gov. Charlie Crist, now reviled by conservative activists in Florida clearly will be an issue. Crist is never mentioned on LeMieux's campaign website.

"Look, I'm my own man, and I have a record,'' he said, noting that he endorsed Marco Rubio for Senate as soon as Crist dropped from the GOP and aggressively worked to get Rubio elected. "It's one thing to talk about being a conservative, and it's another thing doing it. ... I showed my stripes and I showed my principles when I was in Washington. ... The best way to evaluate what George LeMieux's positions are is to look at my record on the job."

And how much did he shape Crist's decidedly moderate agenda as governor? "When you work for someone else, you do the best you can to influence that person to your point of view, but they're the decision-maker in that scenario,'' LeMieux said. "Judge me based on the position I supported when I was in the United States Senate."

The Broward County Republican said he is still assembling his campaign team, but his pollster and general consultant will be Jon Lerner, whose clients have included conservative stalwarts including Pat Toomey and Tom Coburn. The Harris Group, which worked on Rick Scott's campaign for governor, will do social media, and Ann Marie Bravo, a McCain campaign alum, will oversee fundraising.

At this point, it looks three major Republican candidate will vie to take on Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. Senate President Mike Haridopolos has announced and former House Majority Leader Adam Hasner looks set to run.

Read more here.

[Last modified: Tuesday, April 5, 2011 9:21am]


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