What Will Craven Crist’s Senate Seatwarmer Do on Climate?

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on September 1, 2009

That’s the question that Carbon Control News considers today in an article the publication has placed outside its subscriber wall, just for you special blogreaders! Unfortunately CCN‘s reporter can draw no definitive conclusions:

(Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointee) George LeMieux, who will be sworn in as Florida’s junior senator when Congress reconvenes next week, ran Crist’s successful 2006 campaign for governor and served as Crist’s chief of staff until the beginning of last year, when he returned to private practice at a Tallahassee law firm. As Crist’s top aide, LeMieux helped organize the governor’s first climate summit in 2007, during which activists, scientists and public officials from around the world gathered in Miami to consider the challenge presented by global warming and develop potential solutions.

As the Miami Herald reported (and I blogged about) last month, Crist has begun his run to replace quitting Sen. Mel Martinez by running with hair on fire from the no-longer-helpful global warming issue, after basking in media love the last two years when he hosted climate panic conferences featuring California Gov. Arnold Warmalarmer. This year Charlie says he may not hold another speech meet because of concern over the costs to sponsors (really!). But even though LeMeiux (“I am a Charlie Crist Republican”) will placehold, CCN says there’s no telling how he’ll vote on the Senate version of a cap-and-tax bill this year:

While environmentalists are encouraged by the appointment, LeMieux’s membership on the board of an industry organization that opposes cap-and-trade, combined with the potential pressure created by Crist’s conservative Republican primary opponent (that’s former Fla. House Speaker Marco Rubio), suggest his support for climate legislation is far from assured.

Because the two are so closely aligned, Crist likely will have to answer on the campaign trail for LeMieux’s votes on Senate legislation, which likely will include a cap-and-trade bill expected to be introduced by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) as soon as next month.

If the belief still exists that Crist is anything more than the Sunshiny State’s Specter of Arlen, then Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas squashes it like a malarial mosquito:

…Predicting Crist is simple. Simply do the political calculation.

He would easily beat any Democrat in the Senate race. All he has to worry about is Rubio in the primary. So the environmentalists are of little use to him now. They may grumble as he abandons them, but he knows they won’t publicly attack him because he is going to win. And they will need him in the future, if not for climate change then for Everglades funding.

Crist is on your side when there is something in it for him.

And when it comes to climate change, there is nothing in it for Crist anymore.

That is, until the political winds change again.

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