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Crist's Three Disciples: Men Closest to Governor All From Broward

Say this about young Broward County Republicans: They know a meal ticket when they see one. By my count, the three men who have the most crucial roles in getting Charlie Crist elected to the U.S. Senate are all from Broward.

We know about George LeMieux, the former county GOP chair and campaign "maestro" who thanks to an appointment by Crist is now the youngest U.S. Senator. LeMieux's job: simply to vacate the office when Charlie wants after 2010. In exchange, you can bet LeMieux lands whatever job he wants in Crist's office -- probably chief of staff, the title he took after the victorious gubernatorial campaign.

Shane Strum is a familiar face around here.

The former Pompano Beach businessman was also a county GOP chair and has been rewarded with Crist appointments, most recently to the position as the governor's chief of staff, a position that came open when yet another young Broward Republican, Eric Eikenberg, took over Crist's Senate campaign.

At age 33, Eikenberg is both the youngest and -- to the casual political observer -- mysterious member of this powerful triumvirate. So you may be curious to check out the profile published recently in the St. Petersburg Times by political editor Steve Bosquet.

The thing that jumped out to me is just how tight Crist keeps his political inner circle.

When Charlie Crist won the governorship in 2006, he anointed campaign manager LeMieux as the "maestro" of his victory and appointed LeMieux as his chief of staff.

LeMieux then hired Eikenberg as a deputy. When LeMieux left after one year, Crist replaced him with -- who else -- Eikenberg.

Eikenberg and LeMieux grew up in Coral Springs, one of those master development megasubdivision towns that sprouted up all over Florida in the 1960s. Both were Republicans in the state's most heavily Democratic county, Broward.

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Thomas Francis

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