LeMieux believes Crist will stick with GOP in Senate race

Sen. George LeMieux (R-Fla.) said on Monday he had every reason to believe Florida Gov. Charlie Crist would remain a Republican candidate in the race for Senate.

LeMieux, a confidant of the governor who previously served as his chief of staff, said he'd spoken with Crist over the weekend, and that Crist would run as a Republican for Senate, and not as an independent Republican candidate.

"I believe Charlie Crist will be a Republican in this race," LeMieux said during an appearance on MSNBC. "I'm not parsing words that carefully. My understanding is that he's a Republican who will run with the Republican Party -- not as an independent."

"This independent thing will not happen," LeMieux added.

The senator's statements come before a closely-watched April 30th deadline by which Crist would have to decide whether or not he would run as an independent candidate for Senate, or whether he'll stay in the Republican primary, where polls show him badly trailing former state House Speaker Marco Rubio.

Speculation has grown that Crist may bolt the GOP since polls show him slightly ahead in a three-way race with Rubio and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek. Crist's veto of an education bill favored by Republicans last week only heightened speculation that he might wage an independent bid.

LeMieux tamped down those talks, however.

"I have no information to believe that he's going to do anything than run as a Republican in the Republican primary," he said.

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