By Javier Manjarres
A sizable number of Republican grassroots activists have yet to commit behind either candidate in Florida’s Republican senatorial primary, which is unlike what occurred in 2010 when now Senator Marco Rubio dominated the conservative base of the Republican Party which forced then Republican Governor Charlie Crist to run as an Independent and to his defeat in the general election.
Senator Rubio has stated that this primary race is “going to be a conventional race,” and unlike the one he ran in in several regards. The critical Pro-Life bloc within the Republican Party could very well be the deciding factor in determining who represents the Party in the general election against Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
While the all three of the Republican candidates, Congressman Connie Mack, former U.S. Senator George LeMieux, and small business owner Mike McCalister, all consider themselves as being ‘Pro-Life,” the scrutiny about who is really the “Pro-Lifer” and “social conservative” in the race is beginning to intensify.
This race has boiled down between the two self-proclaimed Catholics- Congressman Mack and Senator LeMieux. McCalister had his moment in the sun last year, but several missteps have rendered his campaign all but done.
So, who is going to claim the mantle of the “social conservative” in this race
Congressman Connie Mack has drawn significant backlash from the Pro-Life lobby when he voted ’Yea’ on four controversial embryonic stem cell bills in 2005 and 2007, including one to over-ride President Bush’s initial veto of the bill. Mack explained that the reason why he voted the way he did by stating, “What can be more pro-life than to help people like my grandfather who suffered from illnesses that Stem Cell research could help.”(Source- Shark Tank Interview)
Mack has stated that he is 100% Pro-Life, but many believe that being 100% Pro-Life means that you would also be against any form of embryonic stem cell research. Mack has voted to help defund Planned Parenthood and voted on the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act, an act that “sought to require an abortion provider who knowingly performs an abortion of a child who has reached 20 weeks or more to inform the woman of (among other things) the probable age of the child, and obtain the woman’s signature on the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Decision Form.”(Source) Mack has obtained a 100% rating from the National Right to Life organization.
On gay rights issues, Mack has voted for the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and has also voted in favor of the constitutional amendment to make marriage between and man and a woman that bans same-sex marriage. Mack is also against gay adoptions.
Senator George LeMieux
LeMieux has stated that he is also pro-life, anti-Abortion, “except in limited circumstances such as incest or parental abuse” involving a minor. Like Mack, LeMieux also believes that marriage is between a man and a woman and has been a strong advocate for DOMA. Unlike Mack, LeMieux never voted for an embryonic stem cell research bill and has recently stated that he was against such research.
But while LeMieux was Charlie Crist’s 2006 Gubernatorial campaign manager and the ‘maestro’ of the message and campaign as the newly elected Governor Crist called him, Crist supported embryonic stem cell research during his gubernatorial run. Considering that LeMieux was Crist’s his top advisor, it calls into question whether or not LeMieux advised Crist to support embryonic stem cell research. Crist later walked back his support for that research in 2007.
During his campaign for governor, Charlie Crist made news when he said he disagreed with President Bush’s decision to veto federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research. Many scientists believe the research may find cures for Parkinson’s, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.-(Miami Herald)
But the two candidates differ greatly on the Gay Rights issues. While Mack is against Gay adoptions, LeMieux has be steadfast in his support for them. While running for elected office in 1998 (Florida House of Representatives), LeMieux “supported gay adoption and same-sex benefits. Opposed gay marriage but said voters should have the right to decide via referendum,” according to the Tampa Bay Times.
In addition, LeMieux, while still serving as the Chief of Staff to Charlie Crist, advised the Governor to support gay marriage. Governor Crist did not think that it was prudent to support the measure and opposed the advice this according to Executive Office staffers who were present during the meetings in 2007-2008. LeMieux still stands by his traditional marriage position.
The Republican grassroots has a lot to ponder when it comes to deciding who best represents their core beliefs and values in the upcoming Republican Senatorial primary race. Both candidates will have to fully shore up the GOP base if they expect to have any shot at defeating Democratic Senator Bill Nelson.
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