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Rep. Connie Mack backs Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, whatever he runs for

Rep. Connie Mack IV, R-Fort Myers, won't try to follow in his father's footsteps — at least not yet. In a letter to Gov. Charlie Crist, Mack said he will not run for the Senate in 2010. Instead, he'll seek re-election to the U.S. House and support Crist if he decides to run for Senate. Or anything.

"No matter the decision you make, we will all be fortunate to have you standing up for Florida in the years to come," Mack wrote.

That fueled more speculation that Crist is going to run for the Senate and not another term as governor.

If Crist does leave, the race for governor is going to be fascinating. A March 30-April 1 Mason-Dixon poll for SayfieReview/PowerPlay shows a dead heat between Attorney General Bill McCollum and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink for governor: McCollum 36 percent, Sink 35 percent, undecided 29 percent (with a 4 percent margin of error). McCollum would likely get some company in the GOP primary, including former House Speaker Marco Rubio, who for now is eyeing the Senate seat.

Debunking Tallahassee rumors

Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., said there's nothing to the pervasive Tallahassee rumors that he is being tapped to serve as chancellor of the state's university system or president of Florida State University. "Nope," Martinez, who is retiring when his term ends in 2010, said at the U.S. Capitol.

He said he is "done with the public sector" and plans to return to the private sector, perhaps to practice law. He is also intent upon returning to Orlando.

And Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, tells Buzz there's nothing to the recurring rumors in Tallahassee that he's bound for the pasture after his 20th term ends in 2010. The 78-year-old said he never decides fully whether to run again until the election year, but he's not planning on quitting.

Next up, Mr. Harry Legg?

That was state Rep. Ed Homan, chairman of the Health Care Policy Council, on Wednesday as he was calling the next speaker to the podium. He paused for a moment, waiting for Mr. Legg to approach the microphone.

But Homan quickly realized he was being played. "It was time for a laugh," he said of the April Fool's joke.

Stumping in Tampa

U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, will be in Tampa today holding a petition drive rally to qualify for the U.S. Senate election. The rally is at 2 p.m. at Ballast Point Park Pier at the Gazebo at 5300 Interbay Blvd.

Times staff writers Adam C. Smith, Steve Bousquet and Letitia Stein contributed to this week's Buzz.

Winner of the week

State Sen. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton, has been pushing for two years for a higher cigarette tax, and last week, cash-strapped Republican leaders adopted the $1-per-pack increase (though dubbing it a "surcharge" for smokers) as part of their budget proposal. In the House, Democrat Jim Waldman of Coconut Creek has been pushing for the increase.

Loser of the week

Lottery Secretary Leo DiBenigno got ripped by a House committee for not heeding a legislative order to seek competitive proposals from ad firms and to sever ties with the current vendor. It was by far the most critical interrogation of any of Gov. Charlie Crist's agency heads since he took office in 2007. Message delivered: On Friday, plans were announced for a formal negotiating process.

Rep. Connie Mack backs Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, whatever he runs for 04/05/09 [Last modified: Sunday, April 5, 2009 3:36pm]
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 [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
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