Public Policy Polling surveyed the popularity of appointed U.S. senators who didn’t run for reelection in 2010, and all of them except for Ted Kaufman — who turned into a popular progressive voice on financial regulation — weren’t favorable. That includes Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., who is widely expected to run in 2012 against Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla.
It turns out that serving the rest of former Sen. Mel Martinez’s term didn’t allow LeMieux to build a name for himself. Or, to the extent that he did, his reputation is negative among Republican voters. PPP’s Tom Jensen reads the tea leaves:
LeMieux similarly made no impression on 61% of voters but the ones who did express an opinion about him were quite negative with only 11% approving of him and 28% disapproving.
LeMieux is frequently mentioned as a possible challenger to Bill Nelson in 2012 but I can’t imagine he’s going to be able to do much field clearing. Even with Republican voters his reviews are pretty negative at 14% approving and 24% disapproving. His year of free media simply has not done much to help him build up a positive image with Florida voters. He doesn’t look formidable at all.
Then there are LeMieux’s ties to Gov. Charlie Crist, for whom he served as chief of staff. LeMieux told the Sun-Sentinel shortly before his appointment in August 2009 that he was a “Charlie Crist Republican,” which at the time was a popular thing to say. Now, saying so would be viewed as a contradiction of terms, at least by many conservative Republicans.
At the same time, when the Senate considered a cap-and-trade bill, Sen. LeMieux was clearly aware of the threat of a Republican primary challenge to his former boss Crist. Ryan Lizza in The New Yorker reported that LeMieux couldn’t associate himself with a cap-and-trade bill despite his past support because he did not want to complicate things for Gov. Crist’s Senate run. (On Twitter, LeMieux said the article was incorrect.)
Should he run for Nelson’s seat, it’s likely LeMieux would face a primary challenge himself.
Luke Johnson reports on Florida for The American Independent.