“Bill Nelson and I voted very differently when we served together in Washington. He voted liberal; I voted conservative,” said LeMieux, who was appointed by former Gov. Charlie Crist to serve the final 16 months of former Republican Sen. Mel Martinez’s term.
LeMieux’s move was largely expected and ensures there will be at least two top-tier Republicans in the race to challenge Nelson, the last Democrat to hold statewide office.
State Senate President Mike Haridopolos launched his campaign earlier in the year, and former state House Majority Leader Adam Hasner, a favorite of grass-roots conservatives, is likely to enter as well.
LeMieux, a former Crist chief of staff, will struggle to distance himself from the former governor who left the GOP and ran a 2010 Senate campaign as an Independent, alienating the Republican base in the process.
There was no mention of Crist in the announcement video. Instead, LeMieux focused solely on the familiar refrain of Washington’s “spending problem.” Democrats are openly hoping for a long, divisive GOP primary, which could weaken the ultimate victor before the general election.
“This primary has ‘train wreck’ written all over it, and the eventual nominee will likely enter the general election wounded, bloodied and out of funds,” said Matt Canter, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
Rep. Christopher H. Smith, R-N.J., left, David Goldman, center, and Arvind Chawdra right, attend a news conference in the Rayburn House Office Building on international child abduction. Goldman and Chawdra are fathers whose children were abducted by their mothers and taken abroad.
Each year since 1990, CQ Roll Call has reviewed the financial disclosures of all 541 senators, representatives and delegates to determine the 50 richest members of Congress. This year's report, derived from forms covering the calendar year 2012, shows it took a net worth of $6.67 million to crack the exclusive club.