FL-Sen: Crist Fading, Meek Releases Video
by Nathan Empsall, Thu Apr 08, 2010 at 04:58:48 PM EDT
One open Senate race worth keeping an eye on is Florida, where Republican Sen. Mel Martinez quit early and replacement George LeMieux is not seeking to keep the seat. The contest originally looked like it would be Charlie Crist vs. Kendrick Meek and so who cares we're toast, but now that Meek is heating up and Crist almost surely won't be the GOP nominee, things are getting really interesting.
The big question is whether or not Gov. Crist will run as an Independent after losing the Repub primary to Tea Party favorite Rubio. Rubio erased Crist's only strength - his fundraising lead - last quarter, setting off a firestorm of speculation that Crist will leave the Republican Party. At first the Crist camp wasn't commenting on Rubio's numbers, but put out a press release today insisting that Crist will run only as a Republican, and taking several potshots at Rubio:
Instead of being open and honest with voters and owning up to the thousands of dollars that remain unaccounted for from his political committees and releasing his tax returns, the Rubio campaign would prefer to spread baseless rumors...
The Governor is proud of his conservative credentials and stands firmly behind the principles of limited government and more personal freedom, the bedrock values of the Republican Party. He is proud to be a member of the Party of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Ronald Reagan.
I'm not sure whether or not to trust this release. On the one hand, it sounds pretty firm, but on the other hand, if Crist really is thinking about running as an Independent, of course he'll deny it right up the last second. Surely he learned a lesson from the Lieberman in-primary backlash. One also wonders why he would mention Teddy Roosevelt in his press release in this day of Tea Parties. Glenn Beck has demonized TR, turning him into one of America's most feared historical enemies, and the GOP primary base is eating it up. That sounds more like general election talk than Repub primary speak to me.
Be that as it may, all of this is good news for the Democratic candidate, Rep. Kendrick Meek. The RCP polling average shows a Crist-Meek matchup at 46.5-32.3 for Crist, with Crist topping 50% in one poll and Meek never doing better than a 9 point loss. Rubio-Meek, however, is just 44.3-35.5, and Meek even pulls within one point in a Research 2000 poll from 3/15-3/17. Throw Crist in the mix and you have to assume he takes more votes from Rubio than from Meek.
Meek is really heating up. He hasn't announced fundraising numbers yet, but his campaign did release a high-quality biographical video today. A 1:25 long version is also available.
Most pundits rate this as likely GOP. I'd say it's only leans GOP. Keep your eye on it.