In choosing his closest friend and former chief of staff, George LeMeiux, to keep the now vacated Senate seat in Florida warm, Gov. Charlie Crist (R) has followed tradition and -- perhaps -- exposed himself unnecessarily to his right flank, which will question why Crist chose an avowed moderate-to-liberal Republican instead of a universally respected politician. Choosing friends and family members to fill vacant seats is common enough, but Crist is, as y'all know, running for the seat, and so he has a vested interested in filling it with someone who won't decide to run against him, and who will capably serve the people of Florida. LeMieux, young, articulate, and smart, is one of the many, many Republicans who fulfill those two categories.
To Crist's supporters, LeMieux is the safest pick -- the essence of moderation -- the essence of the image that Crist has created in Florida. The selection could hurt Crist. Adam Smith, the dean of the Florida political press corps, tweeted this: "gd morning 4 Marco Rubio. No other name on Crist's list wld have ticked off activist base as much." Another Florida Republican said that LeMieux would be Crist's "Harriet Meirs," -- an unfair comparison, perhaps, but indicative of the e-mails that I've been getting. Aside from his standing with the base that Crist needs for the primary, LeMieux carries other potential liabilities. He's known as Crist's "Maestro" -- his behind-the-scenes enforcer and broker, and he makes money off of his connections.