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George LeMieux files qualifying paperwork, says he’s ready to take on Connie Mack IV

Photo(1)George LeMieux traveled to Tallahassee to file his qualifying paperwork in person Wednesday as he attempts to return to the U.S. Senate. He said he feels good about the Aug. 14 Republican primary against U.S. Rep. Connie Mack IV even though LeMieux is way down in the polls.

“I’m running against 100 years of name recognition, but it’s not his name recognition, it’s his father’s,” LeMieux said. “And I think a lot of Floridians haven’t focused on this race yet.”

He added that his campaign will continue to educate voters about “which Connie Mack is on the ballot.”

LeMieux says his success this year in Republican straw polls and with Tea Party groups shows that he can close the gap with Mack. And he believes he is the best person to represent Florida in Washington.

“I was there for 16 months," he said. "I saw how broken and dysfunctional it is. I want to go back and fix it for my four kids, for the kids of all the constituents in Florida, (and) their grandkids so that they can grow up in an America as great as the one that we’ve grown up in.”

LeMieux, who served as an interim U.S. senator, spent the past two days touring the Panhandle and has stops scheduled in Jacksonville and the Florida Keys. He has pledged to only serve two full terms if elected.

Asked whether he is trying to distance himself from former Gov. Charlie Crist, his former boss who appointed him to the Senate in 2009, LeMieux said that it is in the past.

Photo“Republicans know that most all of us supported Charlie Crist at one time or the other in the various elections,” he said. “But what I find that they admire in my record is that the day after Charlie Crist left the Republican Party, I supported Marco Rubio.”

LeMieux and Mack are scheduled to debate in July, and LeMieux said those events will help highlight the differences between the two men. The winner of the primary will face Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson.