Why Did Gov. Charlie Crist Give the Senate Seat to a Gay-Friendly Guy?


When Florida’s openly heterosexual Gov. Charlie Crist chose his chief of staff George LeMieux, and not himself, for the Senate seat opened by the resigning Mel Martinez, even we were surprised to learn Crist named a (possibly) gay-friendly man to the U.S. Senate. After all, Crist is in favor of gay marriage and adoption bans, and yet LeMieux, in his only campaign for public office, supported adoption rights and health benefits for gays. So why did Crist pick a man who goes against his staunch conservative values?

Because it lets him have it both ways when it’s his turn to run for the Senate. Former Queerty editor Dan Renzi IDs this scenario:

There is the possibility Crist is playing both sides of the political fence. Although LeMieux won’t be Senator for long, he will get to vote on lots of key legislation. Most notably, this month Congress should have final votes on the Matthew Shepard Act (GLBT protections against hate crimes); the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, could also see a vote this term. Although the issue is currently embroiled in tricky wranglings in the Senate, there could be enough votes to pass—and it will be a very close call. This is where LeMieux comes in.

If LeMieux votes in favor of ENDA, it will appeal to liberal voters, and Crist can take the credit for appointing him. But then when it’s Crist’s turn to run for office, he can just shrug, point at LeMieux, and say “I didn’t tell him to do it, don’t blame me.” With both sets of voters on his side, he’ll be a sure thing in 2010.

Or it could be:

There is also the possibility Crist didn’t think this far ahead, and he just picked LeMieux because they are friends.

Or maybe: Crist is as incompetent a politician as he is a heterosexual. But let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.