[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/30/art.lemieux.gi.jpg caption="Sen. George LeMieux said Friday that he will not support Gov. Charlie Crist's Senate bid."]Washington (CNN) – The political fallout continued Friday for Florida Gov. Charlie Crist as his longtime friend and adviser Sen. George LeMieux announced that he will not support Crist's independent bid for Senate.
"I am saddened that my friend, Governor Crist, has decided to leave the Republican Party. Our friendship runs deep, but my commitment to the principles of the Republican Party runs deeper. I cannot walk down the path he has chosen," LeMieux said in a statement released by the Republican Party of Florida.
On Thursday, Crist announced that he will run as an independent in the Florida Senate race, sidestepping a showdown with Republican Marco Rubio.
For LeMieux, Crist's former chief of staff, the move means turning his back on the man who appointed him to the Senate following the retirement of Sen. Mel Martinez.
LeMieux indicated that he will support the Republican nominee, despite his long history with Crist.
"I will support our Republican nominee and will continue to do everything I can both in Florida and across the country to increase the number of Republicans in the United States Senate." LeMieux said.
LeMieux's withdrawal of support comes on the heels of similar statements from national GOP power players, including the chairmans of the Republican National Committee and Republican National Senatorial Committee.
At least three members of Florida Gov. Charlie Crist's campaign staff resigned on Thursday shortly after Crist's Thursday announcement, including campaign attorney Benjamin Ginsberg, Communications Director Andrea Saul and Press Secretary Amanda Hennenberg.
- CNN's Peter Hamby contributed to this report