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Crist Continues Search

Gov. Charlie Crist on Wednesday continued his vetting of potential U.S. Senator stand-ins by speaking with a university president, a House lawmaker and his former chief of staff.

Emerging from an interview at the governor’s mansion with former chief of staff George LeMieux, Crist said he’s not quite finished, but plans to conclude his search and make a decision by Sept 8.

“We’re getting closer, but not completely,” Crist said of closing the books on his slate of potential applicants.

Crist’s former top advisor, LeMieux said the two of them hold similar views on taxes, spending and the role of government. He also said they would approach the job in a similar fashion.

“I think the Charlie Crist way of staying within your principles but still trying to solve problems for the people is the way we need to address things in Washington,” LeMieux said.

Earlier Wednesday, Crist met separately with University of North Florida President John Delaney and state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, R-Jacksonville, during a trip to Jacksonville where he also toured an F-15 aircraft repair facility at Cecil Field.

Following his interview, Delaney told the News Service he’d take the job in a heartbeat.

“I love public policy. I love the national issues,” he said. “I think everyone who gets elected to office dreams of the U.S. Senate just like lawyers dream of being on the Supreme Court.”

Crist has been meeting with potential replacements to Sen. Mel Martinez, R-Fla., who announced earlier this month that he was resigning 16 months early. Crist is the frontrunner to replace him, according to polls, including a Quinnipiac University survey released Wednesday that shows the governor way out front.

Crist met with former U.S. Attorney Bobby Martinez Tuesday. He’s also asked for information from former Florida Attorney General Jim Smith and U.S. Congressmen Bill Young, R-St. Petersburg and Miami Republican Lincoln Diaz-Balart, who said he’s not interested.

Crist said he plans on naming a replacement before Sept. 8, when Congress returns from its summer break.

“I want to make sure that when Congress goes back in session that the people of Florida are fully represented,” Crist said.

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