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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

RPOF chief: No one's got a leg up to replace Mel Martinez



Sorry, folks, says RPOF chief Jim Greer, there is no favorite to replace Mel Martinez for U.S. Senate. Greer, who has spoken with top Republicans and has the ear of the governor, said Crist will decide on a replacement in the coming days.

But he hasn't made a decision yet.

"I won't rule anyone out. But I wouldn't rule anyone in," Greer said. "Charlie Crist is a person who makes his own decision based on what's best for Florida."

One name that we nosed around about July 28, former Secretary of State and current lobbyist Jim Smith, appears to be a Tallahassee favorite. Some potential drawbacks: Smith was once pro-choice on abortion, switched from Democrat to Republican when the political tides shifted and contributed to the Democratic Party's fratricide by refusing to endorse his party's 1986 governor candidate, Steve Pajcic (whom he said was too liberal). Smith in 1994 savaged Jeb Bush in a Republican primary and also once said to reporters that, at times, he can be a "horse's ass." Smith later endorsed Bush, who appointed him secretary of state years later. If appointed by Crist, Smith will have served for every governor since Askew.

Smith is also the father-in-law of Crist fundraiser and lobbyist Brian Ballard, and they share loads o' clients (61 actually), which could be the grist of some negative attacks.

Here they are: American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, Avaya, Barr Pharmaceuticals, Bethesda Healthcare System, Citigroup Global Markets, City of Boca Raton, City of Boynton Beach, Clear Springs, Consumer Data Industry Association, Convergys Corporation, Corrections Corporation of America, Deloitte Consulting, Florida Alliance for Assistive Services and Technology, Florida Beer Wholesalers Association, Florida Community Services Corp. of Walton County, Florida Concrete & Products Association, Florida Credit Union League, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, Florida Energy Associates, Florida Health Club Association, Florida Long-Term Healthcare Association, Florida Obstetric and Gynocologic Society, Florida Power & Light Company, Florida Society of Pathologists,   G. L. Homes of Florida Corporation, GTECH Corporation, HCR-Manor Care, Healthcare Distribution Management Association, HealthSouth Corporation, Honda North America, Indian River Memorial Hospital, International Health, Raquet, and Sportsclub Association, Investment Corporation of Palm Beach, Liggett Group, M/A-Com Wireless, Marine Industries Association of South Florida, Martin County Board of County Commissioners, Martin Memorial Medical Center, MedImmune, Nemours Foundation, New York Yankees, Northport Health Services of Florida, Nova Southeastern University, Oracle USA, PCL Civil Constructors, Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care, Prison Health Services, Prudential Financial, Rockit Fund, Safety Net Hospital Alliance of Florida, SCI Funeral Services of Florida, Smurfit-Stone Container Corporation, South Central Florida Express, Sun Microsystems, Town of Palm Beach, United Insurance Holdings, LC and its Subsidiaries, United Services Automobile Association, United States Sugar Corporation, Verizon, Wilson Company,

-- Marc Caputo

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 3:56pm]


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