Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist adviser sounds a lot like Senate campaign manager

Check out Charlie Crist's resume. The man never stays put for long.

Six years in the state Senate, followed by an unsuccessful race for U.S. Senate and a stint as a state agency official. Two years as education commissioner. Four years as attorney general. Two-and-a-half as governor, and now he's thinking of running for the United States Senate.

That political profile as much as anything suggests that Crist will soon declare that he does indeed want to go to Washington, with a goal of raising his national profile and positioning himself to run for even higher office.

It's worth recalling that when the Crist-for-Senate chatter began intensifying six months ago, it was laughed off as Democratic hooey by George LeMieux, Crist's former chief of staff and campaign guru, and still perhaps his closest adviser.

"I guess everybody can be wrong," LeMieux said with a laugh. "Things can change in six months."

So now, with an announcement expected very soon and Crist doing his best not to tip his hand, it seemed the logical place to search for clues as to his intentions was to visit LeMieux. His sixth-floor law office in downtown Tallahassee has a panoramic view of the Capitol across the street.

"Charlie Crist has accomplished more, I believe, in 2 1/2 years than most governors accomplish in four or even eight," LeMieux said.

As he ticked off his arguments —- property tax cuts, a 15 percent tuition hike at state universities and proposed purchase of U.S. Sugar property for Everglades restoration — LeMieux's law office began to morph into a Crist for Senate headquarters.

"Certainly, Gov. Crist could do a lot of great things in his second term," LeMieux said. "But on the other hand, the problems visiting Florida right now are not Florida problems, they're national problems. … There's something to be said for going to the United States Senate and being able to make the decisions that are really impacting Florida."

LeMieux called Crist pro-life, pro-gun and pro-adoption — a red meat line aimed squarely at the GOP's base.

He scoffed at the idea that former House Speaker Marco Rubio of Miami, who already has entered the Senate race, would be a threat by running to the right of Crist in a Republican primary — the way Tom Gallagher did in the 2006 governor's race.

"Marco Rubio supported the largest tax increase in Florida history when he wanted to raise the sales tax by 2 or 3 pennies," LeMieux said of Rubio's 2007 tax swap (the Democratic Party already is using that as an anti-Rubio talking point).

LeMieux said Crist could be a major Republican figure in the U.S. Senate: "He already has a national profile, and we are a party that is in desperate need of leaders," he said.

If Crist decides to run for the Senate, it will be more than a transformative moment in Florida politics. It also will make Crist an instant lame duck with 19 months left in his term. The time between now and January of 2011 will seem an eternity.

The resistance Crist faced from lawmakers this session will seem like a love-in compared to next spring — an election year when there will be fierce competition for Republican campaign money.

A Crist Senate candidacy will create an unprecedented domino effect in statewide politics in which the governorship and all three elected Cabinet seats will be open and up for grabs at once.

So the political world awaits Crist's decision, and while LeMieux never said it, he sure made it sound like Mr. Crist wants to go to Washington.

Steve Bousquet can be reached at bousquet@sptimes.com or (850) 224-7263.

Crist adviser sounds a lot like Senate campaign manager 05/08/09 [Last modified: Saturday, May 9, 2009 7:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In Mexico City, hopes of finding quake survivors dwindle

    World

    MEXICO CITY — Five days after the deadly magnitude 7.1 earthquake, the hulking wreckage of what used to be a seven-story office building is one of the last hopes: one of just two sites left where searchers believe they may still find someone trapped alive in Mexico City.

    Rescue workers search for survivors inside a felled office building in the Roma Norte neighborhood of Mexico City on Saturday.
  2. GOP health bill in major peril as resistance hardens among key senators

    National

    WASHINGTON — The floundering Republican attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act met hardening resistance from key GOP senators Sunday that left it on the verge of collapse even as advocates vowed to keep pushing for a vote this week.

    Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a moderate, said Sunday that it was “very difficult” to envision voting for this health-care bill.
  3. Baghdad orders Kurdistan region to hand over borders, ports

    World

    BAGHDAD — Iraq's central government in Baghdad ordered the country's Kurdish region to hand over all border crossings and airports to federal government control late Sunday night, hours before the region is set to carry out a controversial referendum on support for independence.

    Iraqi Kurds climb the fence into a soccer stadium during a rally in Irbil, in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, on Friday. Kurds will vote in a referendum today on the creation of their own country.
  4. Official: Hurricane Maria set Puerto Rico back decades

    Hurricanes

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — Puerto Rico's nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress said Sunday that Hurricane Maria's destruction has set the island back decades, even as authorities worked to assess the extent of the damage.

    National Guardsmen arrive Sunday at Barrio Obrero in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to distribute water and food to people in need after the damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria. The death toll on the island from Maria is 10, but that number is expected to climb.  
  5. Gunman opens fire in Nashville church; 1 dead, 7 wounded

    Crime

    NASHVILLE — A masked gunman invaded a Nashville church Sunday and opened fire, walking silently down the aisle as he shot unsuspecting congregants. At least one person was killed and seven others wounded, authorities said.

    Kaitlyn Adams, a member of the Burnette Chapel Church of Christ, hugs another church member at the scene after shots were fired at the church on Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Antioch, Tenn. (Andrew Nelles/The Tennessean via AP)