New Huntsman video: Obama Failed Us
Allan Bense endorses Adam Hasner

Allen West says no. Mike McCalister says oops. George LeMeiux explains.

A Florida Republican political operative said to Crowley Political Report recently that he has never seen such a bunch of amateurs running some of the U.S. senate campaigns.

Tis a bit harsh.

Still, it has been an interesting few days for Florida senate watchers.


The big headline is that Allen West finally gave a firm "no" - to the question of whether he would enter the senate race.

That huge sigh-of-relief you hear is coming from Adam Hasner, George LeMieux, Mike McCalister and Craig Miller who certainly trembled at the idea of West getting in the race. Loved by Tea Party voters and sitting on far more cash than any of the other candidates, West would have rocketed into top contender status.

After mulling the idea a bit, West concluded he would rather run for a second term in the 22nd congressional district.

"I believe the place where I can best effect the needed change is from the people's House — the House of Representatives," West said in a statement.  "I have been given one of the highest honors to serve in the House of Representatives, and I will continue to serve the citizens in that capacity."


That basically was the explanation that McCalister offered after the Miami Herald's Marc Caputo caught him on camera fibbing about whether he had testified before Congress while serving in the Army.

Video of the former colonel claiming he testified before Congress is out there on YouTube. Caputo asked McCalister about those claims after Saturday's candidate forum in Orlando. McCalister denied ever saying he testified before Congress.

By Monday, he was backing off with a petulant written statement in which he grudgingly admits: "Although I didn’t recall saying it when asked by the reporter, I did say that I testified."


LeMieux took several swipes at his senate race rivals during a recent meeting with Sarasota County Republicans.

Part of LeMieux's pitch is that as a former U.S. Senator, he can stand-up to Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson.

"There will not be a stature gap between me and Bill. There will be if someone else wins this race." LeMieux said.

The former maestro of Charlie Crist, also went on at length explaining his relationship with the former governor.

"One of my competitors likes to talk about the fact that I used to work with Charlie Crist and that apparently is his whole campaign. It is: George worked with Charlie Crist and therefore he must be a liberal because Charlie Crist went bad. I worked for Charlie Crist. I was the deputy attorney general and I was chief of staff for a year. Then after I left, he went left.

"I'm not going to say anything bad about him because he is my friend. I'm very disappointed in his political choices. No one is more disappointed than I am and I'm sure many of you are disappointed because the truth is that nearly all of you, if not all of you, back in 2006 once he won the primary, maybe even before,  supported him. And so did my competitors by the way. I remember them coming in the office and schmoozing with the governor and all that, so let's be honest.

"I was there for a year and we did some good things in 2007, but you know I wasn't the principle. You give advice, sometimes it's taken, sometimes it's not.

"I don't think who I worked for is the most important factor in you determining who you should vote for. I think my record when I was the guy in the chair, when I was the one casting votes is the most important thing.

"And you should know this, despite my friendship with the governor, when he left the Republican Party the next day I endorsed Marco Rubio. Not an easy thing for me to do personally but it was the right thing to do.

". . . I put principles above friendship. So if you want somebody who will do hard things, somebody who will do right things even when they are not personally easy I think I've proven I can do that for you."

Perhaps the most notable thing about LeMieux's remarks is that he clearly feels he must continue to explain his relationship with Crist.

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