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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Records on rail poses trouble for tea party courting GOP Senate candidates



From our story about the GOP Florida Senate candidate forum in Pinellas Sunday:...Haridopolos, Hasner and LeMieux tiptoed around their own records of supporting rail projects in the past.

"That's one of their problems. They were trying to push that to pass," said Sharon Calvert, a leading rail opponent and tea party leader from Tampa.

Calvert and other tea party activists were successful in getting Gov. Rick Scott to kill an Orlando-Tampa high-speed train route. They also generally want Scott to reject a commuter rail, SunRail, in Central Florida.

Asked to pledge to oppose any rail in the future, the three men had to explain their past support.

Like Hasner, Haridopolos voted for the commuter rail project, though he ultimately balked at the high-speed rail plan.

LeMieux said he would rather high-speed rail money go toward reducing the debt, but it already had been allocated by the time he got to Washington.

"I supported high speed rail. I know that's not the view you wanted to hear," said LeMieux, once a chief of staff to former Gov. Charlie Crist whom Crist had appointed to the U.S. Senate.

Only McCalister, a retired Army colonel, was able to promise to oppose any rail without having a record of supporting it.

[Last modified: Monday, June 27, 2011 7:33am]


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