In seeking the seat, LeMieux ensures there will be a GOP primary, joining a field that already includes state Senate President Mike Haridopolos and will likely include former state Rep. Adam Hasner, a favorite of grass-roots conservatives. Rep. Connie Mack IV announced last week that he would not join the race.
Democrats hope the primary will be both expensive and bloody. Republicans see the race as a top pickup opportunity given that Nelson is the only Democrat that still holds statewide office in Florida.
LeMieux has moved to distance himself from failed 2010 Senate candidate and former Gov. Charlie Crist, who is unpopular with the Republican base. But LeMieux’s connections to Crist run deep — as a former chief of staff and campaign manager. LeMieux also owes his Senate appointment to Crist.