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Senate Appointment Could Come This Week, Governor Gives No Hints

As Gov. Charlie Crist closes in on naming a replacement Senate candidate for quitting Sen. Mel Martinez, he continues to get advice on what type of caretaker is needed.

On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Ron Klein – who as a Democrat is not among the candidates under consideration by the governor – wrote to Crist to urge that he appoint someone who favors a national catastrophe bonding consortium that would allow states to pool resources after a disaster. A bill that would do that (H.R. 3555), sponsored by Klein, of Boca Raton, is stalled in the Senate.

“When appointing a new senator to replace Sen. Mel Martinez, I anticipate that you will appoint someone who will work with Sen. (Bill) Nelson to champion this bipartisan solution over the next 16 months,” Klein wrote to Crist. “It is very important to the state of Florida that skyrocketing homeowners’ insurance premiums are addressed in a comprehensive and timely manner.”

Last weekend, Republican county chairmen urged Crist to pick a pro-life candidate who also opposes any further economic stimulus package. Crist has been criticized his own party for bolting across the aisle to support President Barack Obama's bid for a stimulus package – and Florida used the money to balance its budget this year.

The county chairs also urged Crist to choose an opponent of health care reform and legislation that would allow for cap and trade policies on greenhouse gas emissions, another area where the county chairs would seem to differ from Crist's own position.

Crist, meanwhile, has refused to tip his hand publicly on his choice for a replacement, if he's made a decision. Over the last couple of weeks, he's interviewed several potential candidates to finish Martinez term.

Crist has interviewed U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young and former members of Congress Mike Bilirakis, Clay Shaw and Lou Frey. Young has already taken his name out of the hat.

Crist has also spoken with current state Rep. Jennifer Carroll, of Green Cove Springs, and former state Sen. Dan Webster of Winter Garden. Also on the list of candidates are lawyer and former Crist chief of staff George LeMieux, former state attorney general Jim Smith, former Miami federal prosecutor Bobby Martinez, and current University of North Florida President and former Jacksonville Mayor John Delaney.

Administration sources say Crist will likely make his pick by the end of this week.

Martinez had previously announced he wouldn't run for re-election at the end of his term in 2010, but then made a surprise announcement this summer that he would step down early, as soon as a replacement was named.

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