Florida Senate campaigns heat up

Amanda Carey Contributor
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The Florida Senate race reached a new level Friday, when candidates George LeMieux and Adam Hasner began their attacks to cast the other as the more moderate in the field vying to defeat Democrat Sen Bill Nelson in 2012.

Self-described “authentic conservative” candidate Adam Hasner released the first attack ad. In it, he told viewers to “Get to know the real George LeMieux,” blasting his moderateness and ties to former Governor Charlie Crist.

(Charlie Crist used as smear in new Florida attack ad)

The ad was released just one day after a report in the St. Petersburg Times revealed the former state House Majority Leader may have a moderate track record as well, supporting policies that aren’t necessarily kosher with Tea Party views.

For example, the report pointed out that in 2004, Hasner described himself as a moderate who opposed expanding Florida’s private-school voucher program and supported stem-cell research. The Sun-Sentinel, that year, also described Hasner as a “moderate voice in the Florida House and fit in well with his more conservative Republican colleagues.”

In response, Florida-based media consultant Rick Wilson, who has signed on to Hasner’s campaign, fired back Friday at LeMieux. “In what comes as no surprise, George LeMieux, Charlie Crist’s long time puppet-master, is back to his old tricks, trying the same kind of false and deceptive attacks that failed when LeMieux attacked Marco Rubio.”

“George LeMieux is desperate to hide the fact he is a lifelong liberal disguised as a Republican,” Wilson added. “He is as hypocritical as he is vicious and untruthful. Adam Hasner’s conservative voting record  speaks for itself, as does George LeMieux’s continued role as the successor to the Charlie Crist legacy.”

Hasner’s record may be less clear, however, when it comes to Florida’s fiscal pickle while he was in the state House. A rival campaign linked Hasner to the $16 billion dollar growth in state spending from 2003 to 2010. But during that time, he was attacked by Florida Democrats for wanting to reject stimulus funds.

“In office, Adam Hasner was nothing more than a partisan hack pushing his extreme Republican agenda rather than doing what was right for Florida,” Democratic Party spokesperson Eric Jotkoff told TheDC.

Hasner also originally embraced the idea of bringing high-speed rail to Florida, saying in December of 2009, that the goal is to “think beyond the next election and think about what we want Florida to look like 10, 20 years from now…. Making a decision today is not about an overnight success; it’s about how we want Florida to look in the future.”*

In February of 2011, however, Hasner flipped on the issue, saying “The reality is, if we don’t have the money, we don’t have the money.” LeMieux, on the other hand, has always been a proponent of high-speed rail.  Mike Haridopolos, the other Republican candidate, also flipped positions on high-speed rail. He switched around the same time Hasner did, right after Governor Rick Scott rejected the rail.

The Florida Tea Party movement was also against the idea of high-speed rail.

*quote has been corrected

This post has been updated.