I don't know, for some reason it's hard to conceive of Gov. Charlie Crist without George LeMieux, his longtime advisor/campaign strategist/chief of staff. But we're going to have to, because the Associated Press is reporting that LeMieux is leaving Crist's side to return to private law practice in Fort Lauderdale.
It's an abrupt exit and one that will undoubtedly cause much speculation as to the reason why. Let's put it this way, if Crist was a stock, it would be going down on this news.
It's hard to concieve of Charlie without LeMieux. Unlike his predecessor, policy-driven Jeb Bush, Crist NEEDS a right-hand man. He's a people person, not a government geek. Crist considers the hard work of running a government nothing more than drudgery. Sausage-making isn't his forte; put simply, the man prefers play to work. And his muddling decisions regarding property taxes, insurance, and the Seminole compact confirm that he's not always all quite there.
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Those decisions also confirm that LeMieux, who is known as an incredibly hard worker, hasn't exactly been doing a stellar job. Now his replacement, 31-year-old Erik Eikenberg, will be the most powerful man in Florida government (though Charlie will remain the most high-profile). But don't expect much difference from Eikenberg, who formerly worked for Clay Shaw. He's a LeMieux protege and he'll try to keep the status quo going, for good or ill.