Appearing before more than 225 members of the Broward Republican Executive Committee Monday evening, Florida’s 34th U.S. Senator, George LeMieux, said it would be easier to stay home in Broward – “God’s Country” – where he has a good job as chairman of the Gunster law firm, but felt compelled to seek the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
“My experience of having fought for 16 months in Washington, I think that sets me apart,” said LeMieux. “I want to go back to do the job,” he added. “I can be at the table on day one. No one else has that advantage.”
LeMieux was appointed in 2009 to fill the Senate seat vacated by Senator Mel Martinez and held it for 16 months. Touting his Washington experience as a reason to return to the Senate, LeMieux is one of several candidates in the Republican primary.
LeMieux has billed himself as the purest deficit-fighting conservative among the leading candidates for the Republican Senate nomination. The other major candidates are Florida Senate President Mike Haridopolos, former Florida House Minority Leader Adam Hasner, and Colonel Mike McCalister, USAR (Ret), who garnered 10.1% of the vote in the 2010 Republican primary for Governor against Rick Scott and Bill McCollum.
He said his short tenure as a Senator – in what LeMieux described as “the most dysfunctional institution that I’ve ever been involved with” – gives him the knowledge to actually cut the yearly deficit and start paying down the federal debt.
“I will have the instant credibility to be there on day one to help solve this problem. This is a monumentally important election. Monumentally,” he said.
In running for the 2012 Republican nomination, LeMieux, attempted to diffuse an issue that could cause problems – concerns by some about his longtime, close association with former Governor Charlie Crist.
LeMieux raised the issue himself near the end of a nearly half-hour speech to a hometown Broward audience. He emphasized party principles before friendship when it came to Crist.
LeMieux said supporters of his opponents are “saying Oh he’s just a Charlie Crist Republican because he worked for Charlie Crist. And I did. And no one was more disappointed than I when he left the Republican Party. But remember this – the day after he left the Republican Party, I endorsed Marco Rubio.”
During his 16 months in the United States Senate, LeMieux said he never supported earmarks for local projects sought by other representatives and senators for their districts and states.
“I’m the only the only major candidate in this race who’s never voted for a tax increase and never voted for an earmark. People are going to say they’re the most conservative person in this race. Look at the record.”
If nothing is done about the debt, “we’re on the precipice of disaster.”
“Once you’re a Senator, you are called Senator for life. I don’t need the title. But I feel a calling. A calling to go back and try to fix what is wrong.”
LeMieux distinguished himself from the other candidates by pointing out his time in Washington as well as the private sector running a large law firm, “signing both the front and back of a paycheck.”
LeMieux said he has created jobs, built business and cut costs in bad economic times. “Of the other major candidates in this race, they can’t say that.”
“The Broward Republican Party has hosted all four candidates for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate,” said Richard DeNapoli, BREC Chairman. “They all know how important Broward’s votes are.”