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Machen endorses Crist's Senate pick to replace Martinez

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Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2009 12:00 am

Venturing into political waters again, UF President Bernie Machen announced his support Friday for George LeMieux, Gov. Charlie Crist's pick to replace Mel Martinez in the U.S. Senate.

"George's experience in public service," Machen's statement reads, "and his work as deputy attorney general for Florida brings new perspectives and enthusiasm to the position. George has already demonstrated his strong support for Florida's higher education system as well."

Unlike his endorsement of presidential candidate John McCain in January of 2008, Machen wrote in an e-mail that this endorsement was not of a political nature.

"I would have congratulated any one of the finalists for this position," he wrote. "My comment was based on the importance of U.S. Senators to the federal legislative agenda of UF."

Kenneth Wald, a UF political science professor, said while Machen's support for McCain seemed inappropriate to many because it seemed to give McCain UF's stamp of approval, this situation was much different.

"In the presidential election, the Pres. Machen endorsed a candidate in a partisan race, something that university presidents have wisely avoided doing in the past," Wald wrote in an e-mail. "This was appropriate because the fate of legislation of interest to UF depends in part on the Senator."

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