by Javier ManjarresSenator George LeMieux has taken the gloves off in the 2012 U.S. Senate Republican primary race. After months of avoiding any mention of his chief rival Adam Hasner and stating that he views the other candidates in the race “as competitors not opponents,” Senator LeMieux is suddenly changing his tune.
On Monday morning, the LeMieux campaign sent out the following missive attacking Hasner for “masquerading” as a conservative:
“Former Tallahassee career politician Adam Hasner has gone to great lengths to attempt to portray himself as a “true conservative,” a “consistent conservative,” or a “strong conservative,” depending on which mask he selects from his wardrobe on a given day. There’s only one problem. His record.” –Brian Seitchik, LeMieux Campaign Manager
This line of attack is eerily similar to those that then Governor Charlie Crist used against Marco Rubio. Compare Brian Seitchik’s language above with what a LeMieux staffer and Crist supporter told the Miami Herald about Marco Rubio in 2009:
Senator LeMieux himself took several shots at Senator Rubio along these same lines, going so far as to compare him to Barack Obama:
“Crist allies are starting to push back at the notion that Rubio is a conservative’s dream candidate. ‘His is a cunning and convenient conservatism that is inconsistent with his record,’ said Miami political consultant Carlos Curbelo, who has worked for Crist and took a job with Crist’s ally, Sen. George LeMieux.”
“There’s a lot of parallels to draw between Speaker Rubio and President Obama in the way they are running their race and in their ability to throw bombs without ever having to lead because they are out of office,” LeMieux told the St. Petersburg Times in 2009.
LeMieux also attacked Rubio as a tax-raiser, telling the Miami Herald that “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 also used that as an anti-Rubio talking point). This remark was almost immediately debunked as a false attack by Politifact.
The problem with these attacks is the same as it was then as it is now- they are being used against someone whom most reasonable people would agree is a credible conservative with a legislative track record to back it up. The attacks hurled at Rubio by Crist, LeMieux and others in 2009 did not work because Rubio had built his own reputation as a conservative.
LeMieux faces the same challenge again today against Hasner. While there are certainly votes here and there that can be used against Hasner, any objective overall analysis of Hasner’s time in the legislature leads to the conclusion that he was a solid conservative.In fact, the primary knock on Adam Hasner during his time in the legislature was that he was too conservative…too rigid in his ideology to compromise with Democrats or even members of his own party (i.e. Charlie Crist.) In fact, Marco Rubio once called Adam, “the most partisan Republican I know.”
Just recently, Representative Dennis Ross, considered one of the most conservative members in Congress, tweeted that Adam Hasner is “a great friend and stalwart conservative.”
So why the recent change in tactics from the LeMieux Campaign?
It could be an attempt to try to hamper Hasner’s momentum. LeMieux raised huge sums of cash and bolted to the front of the pack last quarter as the clear frontrunner to replace Bill Nelson. He is now widely considered by insiders and the establishment to hold the inside track to the nomination. Most frontrunners ignore their opposition and focus on forward momentum.However, since Mike Haridopolos dropped out of the race, Hasner has racked up impressive endorsements from conservative groups and leaders such as FreedomWorks, Concerned Women for America, Mark Levin, businessman Norman Braman, Dennis Baxley and others.
Prior to his stint as Senator, George LeMieux was one of the most talented political operatives in Florida, successfully managing Charlie Crist’s campaign for Governor in 2006 and earning the nickname “The Maestro” for running what many considered to be a flawless campaign. With a once in a lifetime opportunity to return to the United States Senate on the line, you can bet that Senator LeMieux will pull out all the stops and do everything possible to ensure that he remains the frontrunner in this race.