Friday, June 22, 2018
Politics

George LeMieux quits Senate race, clears way for Connie Mack

Former Sen. George LeMieux abruptly quit Florida's Republican U.S. Senate race on Wednesday, all but guaranteeing that frontrunner Connie Mack will be the party's nominee.

LeMieux was behind in fundraising, behind in name identification and behind in big-name endorsements when compared with Mack, a sitting congressman from Fort Myers and the son and namesake of a former Florida senator.

"Ahead of us in the polls, the Mack name enjoys widespread recognition that can only be matched with substantial advertising or the opportunity to debate on statewide television," LeMieux said in a video address posted on YouTube.

He lamented that Mack refused to debate him on television and that "our finances cannot support" a major advertising campaign. In Florida, competitive statewide campaigns burn through at least $1 million a week on television in the final days.

Mack, meanwhile, received word Tuesday that he was about to be on the receiving end of a $1 million contribution from Las Vegas gaming magnate Sheldon Adelson, a Republican contributor who planned to deposit the money in an independent political committee, Freedom PAC, established to get Mack elected.

Mack entered the race relatively late last year after Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos dropped out.

When Mack entered the race, former Florida House Republican leader Adam Hasner called it quits and ran for a congressional seat instead.

Mack quickly garnered major endorsements, notably from former Gov. Jeb Bush, current Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

LeMieux stayed in, but he struggled in great part because of his association with former Gov. Charlie Crist, who had left the GOP amid a bitter Senate campaign against Marco Rubio in 2010. That Senate seat was held on an interim basis by LeMieux, who had been appointed by Crist after Mel Martinez left the Senate.

LeMieux waged a tough campaign against Mack for months. LeMieux's campaign produced a mocking, cartoonish web ad that accused the congressman of being a "half Mack" when compared with his father and great-grandfather, a baseball legend.

LeMieux also repeatedly bashed Mack for skipping votes in Congress and for having little private-sector job experience outside of working as a consultant for the Hooters restaurant chain. The Democratic incumbent, Sen. Bill Nelson, who has more than $9 million in the bank, is expected to reprise those criticisms of Mack in the general election.

As Mack stumbled and LeMieux froze in the polls, Republicans tried to recruit other candidates to run for the seat. Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater considered running for Senate, but opted to stay put. Former U.S. Rep. Dave Weldon entered the race recently, but with little name ID or money, it will be exceedingly difficult for him to succeed. Other little-known Republican candidates include Deon Long, Mike McCalister and Marielena Stuart.

Though LeMieux had said Mack didn't have the "character" to serve in the U.S. Senate, he decided that having Nelson there was worse.

"To continue would only hurt our chances in the fall, and that is not something that I will risk. Connie Mack will be our nominee. He has my support," LeMieux said. "As a former party chairman, I know that sometimes for the good of the party, and the good of the nation, a candidate has to bow out gracefully. In order to have the best chance to defeat Bill Nelson and put the Senate in Republican hands, today we will end our campaign."

Comments
Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

Former Tampa police corporal qualifies as Democrat to run for Hillsborough sheriff

TAMPA — A Democrat has officially joined the race for Hillsborough County sheriff.Gary Pruitt, a 50-year-old former Tampa police corporal who now works as director of security at a local mall, qualified Friday to challenge Republican Sheriff Chad Chr...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

Carlton: Could anything be more partisan than going nonpartisan?

So Hillsborough County commissioners — most of them, anyway — want voters to consider dropping political parties from certain elections, making those races nonpartisan instead.This would mean when you go to vote in those elections, you won’t know if ...
Published: 06/22/18
Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

Hotel renovator approved by council to restore New Port Richey’s Hacienda Hotel

NEW PORT RICHEY — A seasoned historic hotel renovator and operator is going to take a crack at getting New Port Richey’s city-owned Hacienda Hotel back into action. New Port Richey City Council members, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, u...
Published: 06/20/18
Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

Pope Francis criticizes Trump’s family-separation policy on migrants, says ‘populism is not the solution’

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis stepped into a growing controversy over President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, criticizing the separation of migrant families at the U.S.-Mexican border and saying that "populism" and "creating psychosis" are not t...
Published: 06/20/18
Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Raburn out in State House 57 race. Now who’s in?

Well, that didn’t last long.U.S. Army veteran Michael Sean McCoy filed to run as the Republican candidate in the State House, District 57 race just hours after incumbent State Rep. Jake Raburn, R-Lithia, announced he was stepping down.McCoy, who live...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18
Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

Romano: A Tampa Bay ‘superstar’ caught in the crosshairs of Trump’s border policy

At this moment, she is Tampa Bay’s most influential export. A smart, accomplished and powerful attorney making life-altering decisions on an international stage.But what of tomorrow? And the day after?When the story of President Donald Trump’s border...
Published: 06/19/18
‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

‘Don’t leave me, Mom’: Detainee tells of separation from son

SEATTLE — The call came at mealtime — an anonymous threat demanding $5,000 or her son’s life. So Blanca Orantes-Lopez, her 8-year-old boy and his father packed up and left the Pacific surfing town of Puerto La Libertad in El Salvador and headed for t...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

Trump defiant as border crisis escalates, prepares to lobby House GOP on immigration bills

WASHINGTON - As he prepared to visit Capitol Hill, President Donald Trump on Tuesday continued to insist that Congress produce comprehensive immigration legislation, while anxious Republicans explored a narrower fix to the administration policy of se...
Published: 06/19/18
Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

Trump, GOP to huddle as outrage builds over border policy

WASHINGTON (AP) — Calls are mounting on Capitol Hill for the Trump administration to end the separation of families at the southern border ahead of a visit from President Donald Trump to discuss legislation.Trump’s meeting late Tuesday afternoon with...
Published: 06/19/18
Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another detention center for immigrant children planned for Houston

Another facility intended for detaining undocumented children is reportedly in the works for Houston as the number of children separated from their parents at the border continues to swell.Southwest Key Programs, the same contractor that operates the...
Published: 06/19/18