[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/08/19/art.crist.0819.jpg caption ="Florida Sen. George LeMieux would not say Thursday whether he would support Crist's Senate bid if he decides to abandon the Republican primary and run as an independent."]Washington (CNN) - Florida Sen. George LeMieux, who was appointed to his seat last year by Gov. Charlie Crist, would not say Thursday whether he would support Crist's Senate bid if he decides to abandon the Republican primary and run as an independent.
A Quinnipiac poll released Thursday indicated that Crist trails his opponent for the GOP Senate nomination, Marco Rubio, by 23 points. But the same poll has Crist narrowly leading in a hypothetical three-way race against Rubio, the former Florida house speaker, and Democratic Rep. Kendrick Meek, with Crist running as an independent.
LeMieux, a longtime adviser to the governor, said he had "no information" on whether Crist planned to quit the GOP primary. He dodged when asked if he would support Crist as an independent.
"He is a Republican, has always been a Republican," LeMieux said. "I expect him to run as a Republican."
LeMieux was speaking with reporters on a call organized by the Republican National Committee to question President Obama's plans for NASA and the future of American space travel. The president will outline his vision for the space program at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday.
Political watchers in Florida wondering about Crist's thinking are waiting to see if the governor vetoes an education bill favored by Republicans in the legislature and grassroots conservatives. If he does reject the bill either today or Friday, it could be a sign that the governor is positioning himself as a centrist and giving up in his race against Rubio, who has become a darling of conservative activists.
LeMieux, who has urged Crist to sign the education bill, said he did not think Crist's future in the GOP is tied to his decision on the legislation.
"I don't think that him running as a Republican and what he does on the education bill are linked," he said.