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Republican George LeMieux ready for U.S. Senate race


George LeMieux is set to enter the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, a possibly contentious contest in which the winner will face incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson. The Buzz is LeMieux will make the announcement next week. He served 16 months in the Senate after being appointed by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to fill a vacancy created when Mel Martinez quit early. LeMieux never completely concealed his desire to return to the Senate full time and has spent the months since the November election assembling a team, lining up fundraising commitments and traveling the state. LeMieux, 41, generally impressed conservatives during his interim stint, hewing the party line and joining in the criticism of President Barack Obama. So far only one major candidate has declared, Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos. Former state Rep. Adam Hasner also is seriously weighing a bid.

Bills would move trust fund money

A pair of bills that create an economic development fund and fill it with $426 million passed their first committee stop Friday in the Florida House. The so-called State Economic Enhancement and Development (SEED) Fund would be housed in Gov. Rick Scott's Office of Tourism, Trade and Economic Development. It would spend money from trust funds dedicated to affordable housing, transportation projects and trade and promotion. Rep. Gary Aubuchon, R-Fort Myers, acknowledged that moving the money from specific funds could jeopardize funding for projects. But those projects could still compete for the cash, he said. "There is risk involved here, but there is risk involved in the present system," he said. Rep. Dwayne Taylor, D-Daytona Beach, said lawmakers were robbing trust funds and removing oversight for the money. "This is a very dangerous bill. We are treading in dangerous territory," he said.

Ban on 'uterus' draws a backlash

News that state Rep. Scott Randolph was scolded for saying the word "uterus" on the House floor has prompted hundreds of people to go online, and to say the word "uterus." The story has prompted a series of e-protests, and the creation of a Facebook page for the Uterus. In case you missed it: Randolph's wife, Susannah, gave him the idea to use time during a House floor debate to argue that the only way she should could protect her rights as a woman was to "incorporate her uterus," since Republicans are fiercely antiregulation when it comes to business. Democrats were later told not to talk about body parts on the House floor, because teenage pages were in the chamber. "My #uterus is starting a PAC and a leadership fund — U-PAC," Susannah Randolph posted on the Facebook page. "Who's in? Time to bring power back to the uterus." People on Twitter have been making fake uterus film titles — My Big Fat Greek Uterus and The Manchurian Uterus — and commenters also have been going to the Florida House of Representatives Facebook page to say "uterus." (House staffers have been removing the comments.)

Times staff writers Alex Leary, Michael C. Bender and Aaron Sharockman contributed to this report.

Republican George LeMieux ready for U.S. Senate race 04/01/11 [Last modified: Friday, April 1, 2011 10:27pm]
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