Mayor Julio Robaina
By Roger Stone The resignation of Florida Senator Mel Martinez gives Florida Governor and US Senate candidate Charlie Crist a valuable opportunity to make a political statement as he faces an increasingly vigorous challenge in the GOP primary from former House Speaker Marco Rubio and a more-problematic-than expected General Election in which recent polls show Crist not breaking 50% against several white Democrats. While the likeable Crist is still the frontrunner, his path to the nomination and election would be aided by the appointment of an ideological conservative like Senator Dan Webster or former Speaker Alan Bense. Neither seems to be on Crist's short-list however. Floating the possibility of former US Attorney Robert Martinez seems to be an effort to play the Hispanic card and a possible effort to snuff Rubio in his own Miami backyard. This could be smart - a recent primary voter poll in the City of Hialeah, the fifth largest city in Florida in terms of registered Republicans, shows Crist trailing Rubio by 3 to 1. Martinez is also highly qualified and known for his integrity but has no particular conservative credentials. If Crist wants to go this route, a better appointment would be Hialeah Mayor Julio Robaina with a solid record of tax-cutting and holding the line on spending. Alas, Robaina, a rising star among conservatives, is not on Crist's list. Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer suggests that former Crist Chief of Staff George LeMieux is on the short list - truly a joke in view of LeMieux's shameless profiteering off the Crist Administration. Such an appointment would only bring greater scrutiny to the gambling monopoly LeMieux helped arrange for the Seminoles and the flow of Seminole money into the RPOF which in turn paid at least $200,000 to the little Frenchman. A skillful politician, look for Crist to make an appointment that shores up his right flank.