Commentary: New Florida Senator LeMieux must show his loyalty to state

-If Gov. Charlie Crist had one requirement when choosing a replacement for Sen. Mel Martinez, who decided to quit his post a year early, it's loyalty. Loyalty not to Florida but to Mr. Crist himself.

By selecting George LeMieux, his former chief of staff and past campaign manager to serve as senator, the governor picked a loyal bench-warmer and seasoned GOP operative while Mr. Crist runs for the same Washington job. How convenient.

Mr. Crist displayed a total disregard for more experienced former and current members of Congress and legislators — and other qualified candidates with no U.S. Senate ambitions — who could have stepped in without a hitch. It was a predictable pick by a governor who has lost touch with many Floridians and has backtracked on some of his moderate positions.

At least Mr. LeMieux, who served as Broward Republican Party chief from 2000 to 2002, gets high marks from Democrats like Bob Butterworth for his knowledge of Florida issues. But with monumental challenges facing Florida and the nation — from healthcare reform in a state with a high percentage of elderly and poor to protection of the Gulf from oil drilling too close to Florida's coastline — Mr. LeMieux will have to move beyond partisan responses to work on solutions in a bipartisan fashion. Mr. Martinez sought to do that on immigration reform and oil drilling. Can Mr. LeMieux?

To read the complete editorial, visit The Miami Herald.