For Crist's Sake

The U.S. Senate race down in Florida has to be the most fascinating contest in this year’s mid-term elections for me. I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently because of these volatile polls that have come out. Supporters of Marco Rubio, the beleaguered Republican golden boy, were first elated when Mason-Dixon and Rasmussen released polls showing Rubio +5. The pendulum shifted again when Quinnipiac released its most recent survey showing Gov. Charlie Crist ahead by 7 points.

On the Democratic side, Rep. Kendrick Meek demonstrates why it’s hard out there for a small-time politician. Ever since Gov. Crist (the orange, unprincipled one, for the casual voters) pole-vaulted out of the Florida GOP to independence, Meek has been a non-entity. And for his part, President Barack Obama hadn’t been showing the brother any love. And while he’s keeping his options open by continuing to flirt with the orange governor, Obama did put on the charm offensive yesterday and ordered a sandwich for the congressman during a trip there.

The Hill:

Even though the president still hasn't headlined a fundraiser or campaign event exclusively for Meek, the congressman's campaign used every chance it could Wednesday to get him close to the president. 

Meek was on the airport tarmac to greet Obama when he arrived, and the two later made a stop at Jerry's Famous Deli in South Beach for corned beef sandwiches.

After purchasing Meek's sandwich, the president joked, "Don't say I never gave you anything."

This race is a welcome, fun departure from an otherwise bitter and depressing political climate.  The two Democrats are both essentially good guys. I can see how some view the White House’s past treatment of Kendrick Meek (an early supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton) as the epitome of its decadence. I tend to cut the president some slack on this one. (We all misread the tea leaves sometimes and have to pay the price, Kendrick!) Besides, Meek’s primary opponent, Jeff Greene, who was once gaining, is a charming politician—a kind of vulgar charm, no doubt. (Jeff Greene is like Bill Clinton with a billion dollars and no Hillary to instill a modicum of discipline.)

There's more...

The Real Democrat (FL-Sen)

If you haven't seen it yet, the campaign released a new web video this morning, asking the question, "How do you find the real Democrat in the Florida U.S. Senate race"?  Take a look and tell me what you think.  Video and transcript after the jump...

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FL-Sen: Race blown wide open

Florida Governor Charlie Crist finally announced today that he will run for U.S. Senate as an independent candidate, saying the political system is "broken." He declined to say whether he would caucus with Democrats or Republicans if elected in November. Jonathan Martin noted,

The governor made no mention of his two rivals, but he indicated in unambiguous terms that he will now race from the right to the political center. After months of touting what he described as the conservative record of a Reagan Republican, Crist made no mention of cutting taxes and spending.

Instead, he touted his opposition to off-shore drilling, his recent veto of an education reform bill that has won him support among teachers and recalled his controversial decision to expand voting hours in 2008.

Although some polls have shown Crist narrowly leading a three-way contest against Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek, my hunch is that this race will become quite difficult for Crist. His key campaign staff have quit, his pollster has severed ties, and he will lose many of his donors. Both major parties will nominate serious candidates against him. Joe Lieberman faced none of those obstacles when he decided to run for for re-election as an independent after losing the 2006 Democratic primary in Connecticut.

Swing State Project and the Cook Political Report changed their rating on this race to "tossup" today. Meek has trailed in polls to date, but against two opponents he may have a decent shot if he can consolidate his support among Democrats. He said today that donations are pouring in now that Crist has decided to run as an independent. Not long ago Mark Blumenthal made the case against writing off Meek.

I'm much less encouraged to read that a self-funding billionaire, Jeff Greene, will announce tomorrow that he's running for Senate as a Florida Democrat too. Marc Ambinder writes, "It's been previously reported that Net pioneer/ex-Dean manager Joe Trippi and Bloomberg and pollster Doug Schoen have been informally advising Greene." I hope Trippi and Schoen will come to their senses, because another Democrat in the Florida race is frankly the last thing we need.

What do you think, MyDD readers?

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