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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

LeMieux tops GOP straw poll, 'milquetoast' Mack finishes last



Straw polls are often meaningless exercises, but this one feels potentially significant: The Florida Federation of Republican Women, after putting questions to the leading Republican candidates for U.S. Senate, held a straw poll vote where George LeMieux won the most votes, followed by Mike McCalister, and then by frontrunner Connie Mack.

FFRW president Cindy Graves said Mack was favored going into Sunday's candidate forum, but LeMieux stood out. Mind you, these are some of Florida's most die-hard Republican activists, who know all about LeMieux's longstanding ties to Charlie Crist and were basing their straw poll votes on substantive answers to questions and not simply name recognition.

"It was the first good test of what the candidates' messages are, and I think the real beginning of the campaign season," said Graves, who did not reveal specific vote tallies.

"Members felt he just didn't have much red meat on the issues and possibly was just too generic with his answers," Graves said of Mack. "These women, some of them work 40 hours a week when the campaign really gets going, and they don't want to work for a milquetoast candidate. They want to work for someone who can win."

[Last modified: Monday, February 20, 2012 4:16pm]


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