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With Crist Moving Left, LeMieux Could Be Key Vote for Climate Bill

Following up on my piece today on the increasing odds of a utilities-only carbon cap — particularly given a supportive statement from swing Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) — Marc Ambinder writes:

Snowe is a signaler: if she’s on board with a bill, then Sen. Susan Collins, Scott Brown, and George Voinovich would be inclined to vote for it, as would Florida’s George LeMieux, who doesn’t want to vote against a climate bill.

LeMieux is a particularly interesting case. A longtime loyal adviser to Gov. Charlie Crist (R-Fla.), LeMieux was appointed by his boss as a temporary placeholder until Crist could run for the Senate seat himself this November. Several months ago, when Crist’s Republican primary opponent Marco Rubio began to take a commanding lead in the polls, I speculated that while the need to move to the right against Rubio could cause Crist to nudge LeMieux away from the Democratic agenda on issues like climate change, a Crist loss in the primary would free LeMieux to vote his conscience — which, if his views are as aligned with Crist’s as people seem to think, could be a vote for climate legislation.

But the current scenario’s even better for climate bill advocates. As an independent in the race, Crist is now moving to the left as fast as he can in an attempt to position himself as the electable alternative to Rubio. And if LeMieux is truly trying to help him, a vote for the most important piece of environmental legislation in the country’s history could give Crist a substantial boost among Democratic voters.

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