It’s time for Kendrick Meek to drop out of the U.S. Senate race in Florida.
A new Miami Herald/St. Petersburg Times poll shows Marco Rubio now leading, with 41 percent. Florida Gov. Charlie Crist has the support of 26 percent of those queried, while Meek has 20 percent.
Why should Meek be the one to drop out? Two reasons. First, his numbers have been no better than they are right now from the beginning. Meek has consistently failed to sway large numbers of voters and there is no reason to expect that to change in the next nine days.
Second, were Crist to back out, Meek would stand virtually no chance of pulling Republican support. Crist backers who are registered “R” will vote “R.” On the other hand, many Democrats are willing to vote for the no party affiliated Crist if it means denying Rubio a victory.
The poll had a margin of error of 4.1 percent, so if Rubio stayed at 41 percent and Crist picked up Meek’s supporters (which he would very likely do), he would garner 46 percent.
Sadly, since early voting has already started, it might be too late even if Meek does decide to do the right thing and step away. Florida appears to be headed toward having a Sen. Rubio in its future. It’s a grim prospect, and Meek can look forward to a lifetime of having earned the nickname “Kendrick Nader” if he makes it happen.
With polls showing Florida Gov. Charlie Crist at about 30 percent in his race for U.S. Senate against Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek, the newly independent candidate is already swimming upstream.
I just got my sample ballot, and not only is Crist not listed third, he’s at number nine, ahead only of one other guy and the space to write someone in.
Blame it, along with many of his other campaign woes, on Charlie’s decision to go no party affiliation (NPA) rather than face Rubio in a Republican primary.
Florida Statutes, 101.151(2)(b):The last time ten names were listed for one office on a Florida ballot was in 2000. And you know how that turned out.
“The names of the candidates of the party that received the highest number of votes for Governor in the last election in which a Governor was elected shall be placed first under the heading for each office on the general election ballot, together with an appropriate abbreviation of party name; the names of the candidates of the party that received the second highest vote for Governor shall be second under the heading for each office, together with an appropriate abbreviation of the party name.”
So that explains why Rubio jumped to first and Meek is second, but why is Charlie second from last?
Rumors are flying in Florida after this week’s debate among the three candidates for the U.S. Senate. One scenario, put forth by the Wall St. Journal, says Democrats might be pressuring U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.) to drop out of the race, leaving only Gov. Charlie Crist and former state House Speaker Marco Rubio to duke it out.
With Meek’s poll numbers showing no bump after the debate, and with groups like the Florida Sierra Club offering dual endorsements of both him and Crist, Meek really has two choices: quit and lose now, or stay in and lose later.
The candidate himself, though, seems still in fighting mode. After the Sierra Club’s odd move, Meek upped the oddness quotient by refusing the endorsement. He also made it clear he’s tired of people forgetting that Charlie Crist is neither a Democrat nor a true environmentalist.
An endorsement from the “Fire Breathing Liberal” himself has upped the hang-wringing quotient among Florida Democrats who buy into the false premise that they must defeat Gov. Charlie Crist in the U.S. Senate race.
Former U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-South Florida) came out in support of Crist over the weekend.
“There is a special time in which elected officials have to put country before party, and this is one of those times,” the seven-term congressman told a crowd of his former constituents at Century Village west of Boca Raton. “I am here to endorse Gov. Charlie Crist because he has earned it. He has truly earned it.”
How Crist “earned it” is anyone’s guess, although he has shown signs of being a vertebrate with election-year vetoes of egregious legislation passed by Florida’s Republican-majority lawmakers. Still, Democrats expected Wexler to endorse U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, whose tagline since Crist went no party affiliation (NPA) is that he is a “lifelong Democrat.”
The often overlooked detail in the three-way race between the newly NPA Crist, the Democrat Meek, and the Tea Party Republican Marco Rubio is that all that has to happen for Rubio not to be the next U.S. Senator from Florida is for him to capture less than 33 percent of the vote. So Democrats can vote for Crist or Meek, just so long as they don’t vote for Rubio.
The speculation in Florida that Gov. Charlie Crist might switch parties to beat his Republican challenger in the U.S. Senate race, Marco Rubio, says a lot about the state of the Republican party. First, that it’s easy to see why the previously described moderate Crist might be more comfortable going the “Independent Republican” route, ala Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman, belies how far to the right the energy on the GOP side has shifted. Second, that it’s equally easy to see Rubio going the Tea Party route — and winning — shows how much the Chronically Aggrieved demographic of the electorate, ala Sarah Palin, has grown.
Crist continues to deny he’s toying with a switch.
“It’s not something I’m thinking about,” Crist told the Times/Herald in Tallahassee last week. “I’m comfortable about the race. I know what the numbers are, but we’ve got six months to go, and the public really doesn’t know the opponent.”
To a Human Events reporter last week in Washington: “Some friends of mine talked to me about it, but I haven’t embraced it. I’m running as a Republican.”
And we know about those embraces from Charlie. The one he gave Obama when the president visited the state early in his term is still a thorn in Crist’s side, leaving a wound which Rubio takes every opportunity to reopen.
We who live in Florida also recognize a weak Crist denial when we hear one, and the governor’s not quite “No” is helping to keep the rumors going.
The Crist camp blames the Rubio camp for generating this buzz, maybe as payback for the Rubio camp’s claims that Crist, or more likely his good buddy, disgraced Republican Party of Florida (RPOF) chair Jim Greer, was behind the release of the records from Rubio’s RPOF credit card. They revealed the high-dollar hair cuts and three-digit lunch tabs one might expect a Tea Bagger fiscal conservative type to avoid. (Unless one is familiar with Sarah Palin, of course, and then Rubio would fit the mold to a “tea.”) Greer could also have been paying the Rubio folks back for his resignation/ouster, which came after months of Rubio supporters turning on Greer for ignoring party rules and endorsing a candidate in the primary, i.e. Greer’s old pal Crist.
Standing safely on dry land is the Democratic candidate, U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek (Miami). Meek continues to criss-cross the state, meeting voters from the Daytona Speedway to black churches to fire stations and diners. Despite his efforts and progressive voting record, local Democratic activists complain that they have little sense of Meek as a man and would like to see more passion and personality than his handlers seem to allow.
Meek’s strategy of leaving the two Republicans to try to drown one another and address only the survivor would fall flat if the race stayed a three-way, with either Crist or Rubio running on a third party ticket. But if that’s going to happen, it better happen soon.
Under Florida law, Crist would have to change parties by the April 30 qualifying deadline. That means Crist could not pull a Joe Lieberman — lose in the August primary and then run in the general election as an independent candidate.
The scenario goes like this: Crist concludes in late April that he simply cannot win the Republican primary — two polls last week showed him trailing Rubio by 18 points — and that his best and only hope would be to run as an independent. Using the more than $7 million he has on hand already, Crist would cast Rubio as Attila the Hun and Democrat Kendrick Meek as a sure loser and then peel off enough moderate voters and independents to win the general election.
“That would certainly end his presidential aspirations, but Charlie Crist would be formidable as an independent candidate,” said Democratic fundraiser Mitchell Berger of Fort Lauderdale, a strong Meek supporter. “Objectively, I do think he has the ability to win over Democrats,” he said.
I felt early on that people underestimated Rubio, and time — plus the rise of the Tea Bagger movement — certainly bear that out. If Meek is going to stand a chance, he better wade into the Crist/Rubio swamp soon. And Crist and Rubio better watch each other closely to see who looks as if he’s about to row over to the third party sandbar.