The Florida Senate race just got a little uglier.
On Monday the campaign of former U.S. Senator — and current candidate — George LeMieux launched a website attacking his opponent, Adam Hasner. On the site, LeMieux accuses Hasner of being a secret moderate.
The charge contradicts Hasner’s campaign strategy, which projects his image as that of the “true conservative” in the race. Hasner has even collected endorsements from prominent conservatives including radio host Mark Levin and the FreedomWorks PAC.
LeMieux’s site, PhonyConservative.com, accuses Hasner of cultivating an image of moderate politician long before thinking about running for the U.S. Senate.
Specifically, the site accuses Hasner of voting to raise taxes and weaken term limits, requesting millions of dollars in earmarks, and being weak on “values” issues. The LeMieux campaign also dug up a mailer from Hasner’s 2004 race which referenced a news story that praised his moderate record.
But the website, and the accompanying press release sent out Monday by the LeMieux campaign, were partial responses to a recent Hasner initiative: a campaign email that proclaimed “LeMieux is French for Crist!” The jab refers to former Florida governor Charlie Crist.
“Desperate and stuck in last place in the polls, Adam Hasner has spent months running from his record in Tallahassee,” said LeMieux’s campaign manager, Brian Seitchik. “Now he’s even attacking George LeMieux’s family ancestry. Ethnic attacks are not what Floridians deserve to hear, Adam; let’s stick to the records.” (RELATED: Florida’s US Senate candidates take center stage)
Hasner communications director Douglass Mayer, however, said Monday that LeMeiux should lighten up.
“With $15 trillion in national debt and nearly one million Floridians unemployed, the last thing voters want to hear is a U.S. Senator whining about the push and pull of the election season,” Mayer said.
“Despite his attempts at reinvention, George LeMieux is a ‘Charlie Crist Republican,’ and Floridians deserve to know the truth. To paraphrase Herman Cain, George LeMieux needs to learn how to take a joke.”
A recent poll showed that neither LeMieux nor Hasner is a clear front-runner in the GOP Florida Senate primary race. The winner will face incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat.
According to Public Policy Polling, retired Colonel Mike McCallister has 17 percent of the vote, compared to LeMieux’s and Hasner’s 13 and 9 percent support, respectively. McCallister ran in the 2010 gubernatorial primary and garnered ten percent of the vote.