Florida Republican Sen. George Lemieux backs fellow Republican Marco Rubio in the election to replace him, rather than independent Gov. Charlie Crist, who appointed Lemieux.
Crist, then a Republican, named Lemieux to the seat opened by the early retirement of Republican Mel Martinez. The governor dropped his Republican affiliation when it became clear he was likely to lose in the primary to Rubio, former state house speaker.
“I think Rubio will win,” Lemieux told Newsmax.TV. “I’m a friend of the governor and very appreciative of the opportunity he’s given me for public service.” Lemieux also served as Crist’s chief of staff.
“But when he left the Republican Party, I could no longer support him, and I think that’s how most Republicans in Florida feel,” Lemieux said.
“Marco is a person of conviction, he’s a man of ideas. I think he’ll do a very fine job in the Senate.”
Lemieux did nothing to stifle the talk that he will try to return to the Senate himself, challenging Democrat Bill Nelson in 2012. “I have no announcement today. I’m trying to do the best I can as senator from Florida in the time I have,” he said.
“We’ll see what the future holds. I’ll keep my options open. I would hope that I’d have an opportunity for public service again in the future.”
In the contentious Republican primary for governor, Lemieux supports state Attorney General Bill McCollum over former hospital company executive Rick Scott.
“Bill McCollum is a man of integrity. He does what he thinks is right. He’s in public service for all the right reasons,” Lemieux said.
“He’s a man we know. While I think it’s great that Rick Scott has put himself up for public service, I think Bill McCollum is a good bet.”
The fact that Columbia/HCA ousted Scott as CEO after the biggest medical fraud scandal in U.S. history is a legitimate campaign issue, Lemieux says.
“Of course it’s a legitimate issue. It’s a company he was CEO of. I think he would acknowledge that,” Lemieux said.
“The people of Florida will have to evaluate that. It’s an issue that as a voter, I’m certainly going to consider.”
On the tax front, Lemieux opposes President Obama’s proposal to let Bush era tax cuts expire for people who earn more than $200,000.
“We don’t need to raise taxes in the middle of a recession. That’s the worst thing to do.”
Some of the affected taxpayers are small business owners who pay their business taxes as personal taxes.
“Those are the people who create jobs,” Lemieux said. “Two out of every three jobs are created by small businesses. To tax those people more just means they won’t hire.”
Lemieux has an idea for a tax cut. “I’m working on a small business bill to provide tax cuts to small business and loans to community banks that would get those dollars out to small business folks.”
So Lemieux doesn’t think the government should steer completely clear of the economy. But, “Government action needs to be targeted, limited and focused,” he said.
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