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?

Tags: FL-Sen, Kendrick Meek, Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio, Jeff Greene (all tags)



nice wrap!

I think that Crist is going to fail, but for the opinion, I am informed by the Independent expert, Bill Hillsman. His basic thesis was that an 'oportunistic Independent' loses clout with the independent voters when they make such a move-- whatever goodwill Crist had as an Independent Republican minded politician goes poof.

That said, Crist has 6M on hand. He controls his destiny right now. But where does he raise any more? He'd need to raise another 6M to make it a race. He's becoming more progressive in his stances, see the recent veto of SB 6 and his talking about flipping on offshore drilling. He is the Governor and has the pulpit to make noise.

Meek has done hard work. He got signatures to get on the ballot, 140K and had raised $4.6M by Dec. I don't know what his CoH is-- didn't get on the cc today, but I am sure this guy will build a big network of voters. He did vote for the bailout, which will hurt his positioning.

I don't know what to think about Greene getting in. Yea, he's a billionaire, so he's going to be able to self-fund and widely out-spend Meeks in a primary. It could get ugly and negative?  I sorta doubt it. Where Greene positions himself is going to determine how the race shakes up in the primary. Is it the billionaire self-powered vs the AA people-powered campaigns or is it a ultra-progressive Greene vs a ankle-biting Meeks? If Greene can come off like a pitchfork populist who's progressive to the bone, the money will not matter as much-- didn't hurt Ross Perot and plenty of rich guys win Democratic primaries. For Meeks, he's gotta believe (really believe) that money doesn't win a primary against a people-powered campaign. He's run that way to date, but if he pivots here to an angry (my turn) candidate, and comes off as entitled, he's gonna lose the momentum.

What's fascinating is who we are not talking about anymore. Rubio. He's now got the Republican primary to his own. To date, he's run as about as conservative as you can get. Does he go to the middle now?  I thought their memo on the 3-way was too smarty pants, and made it transparent that they think they know something but are really clueless as to how this is going to shake out. It particularly looks like 101 pundidtry in light of Greene's hopping in the race. Rubio, as a movement conserative guy, doesn't have a solid path right now, but a pivot. He needs to pull what Meeks has been doing to date, and shift to the ground while the D's battle it out. His campaign going after Crist on the negative is a poor strategy.

And what will Crist say about Greene? Not much, for sure. Crist vs Rubio vs Meeks is one thing; Crist vs Greene vs Rubio is quite another. The ultra-maleable Crist has an advantage with the former that goes out the window with the latter-- Crist would be out-spent by both sides.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-04-29 11:24PM | 0 recs
RE: nice wrap!

I heard Republicans are urging donors to demand their money back from Crist. So he may not have that much cash to spend.

Rubio can't go to the middle. He'll have his hands full trying to keep that credit card scandal from getting more traction now that he doesn't have a primary opponent.

by desmoinesdem 2010-04-29 11:58PM | 0 recs

will try to re-run the '02 Dem Gov primary by casting himself as McBride and Meek as Reno. 

You cannot talk about the Dem Primary race without talking about race. 

by fladem 2010-04-30 12:31PM | 0 recs
RE: Greene

Oh man, you brought up McBride. I was so chagrined by that contest. It epitomizes, along with the Texas Dream Team, the 2002 elections. I nearly drove off a cliff after that defeat to the Bushits and DeLays after that one; as fate would have it though, I merely drove to VT to join Trippi with Dean's campaign instead.

I don't know that Reno would have held up any better in the GE; but when I saw McBride vs Bush debate, I was regretful for pushing hard for him over Reno-- was it ever determined if she was wronged by the outcome?

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-03 10:13PM | 0 recs
Democrat-lite? No, Meek is best.

Rubio of course will consolidate a lot of the Angry Mob (most but not all Republicans, and the remaining Dixiecrats).  Crist will suffer because, why bother voting for a soft Republican when you can vote for a real Democrat, Kendrick Meek?

The entry of Greene on the last day of filing will not endear him to any of the Democratic Party establishment, but with his money, I doubt he cares about that.  But where does he position himself?  Likely to the right of Meek.  But to try for the nomination in August, that is a difficult line to walk - Florida has a "closed primary" system, and in an off year, only activists are going to be slogging to the sweaty polls (a 15% turnout would be typical, and that's where Kendrick's ground game and year-plus of contacts getting ballot access petitions signed are going to help him).  Greene is going to have to convince Democrats that he would be the best one to fight Mitch McConnell, plus I'm sure President Obama will be indirectly indicating support for Meek all along.

For the General Election, a big wild card is whether the RPOF (Republican Party of Florida) credit card scandal balloons and indictments are issued (particularly Income Tax evasion).  Both Rubio and Crist are vulnerable, but Rubio more so. Crist displayed horrible judgment in elevating Jim Greer to Party Chair, but Rubio actually has his paw prints all over big charges for lavish items.

by GreginFL 2010-04-29 11:27PM | 0 recs
RE: Democrat-lite? No, Meek is best.

I think you meant that Greene will position himself to the white of Meek.

by Steve M 2010-04-30 12:34PM | 0 recs
RE: Democrat-lite? No, Meek is best.

Talked with a FL consultant today-- Greene is going after the older white Democrat Dems, lotsa panhandle D's, hispanics Dem voters. Meek will have the Obama Dems there behind him, that's for sure; Hildibrand probably got them the whole list a while ago.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-03 10:18PM | 0 recs
RE: FL-Sen: Race blown wide open

I could see a lot of Republican donors demanding their money back.  Rubio has been gaining a lot of momentum riding the tea party wave. He's going to achieve more longevity with his campaign by running independent, because Rubio would have beaten him in the primary.. however I think this will hurt his chances come november.  


I'm really excited to see how this race unfolds though, I figure Crist will be doing everything possible to dig up things to discredit Rubio (and possibly Meek).  

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-30 12:47AM | 0 recs
RE: FL-Sen: Race blown wide open

By the way, if you were a resident of Florida who would you cast your vote for?

by Chuckie Corra 2010-04-30 01:14AM | 0 recs
I'm in for Meek!

Here's my take on things...

   I live in the all-important Tampa/I-4 corridor. Meek has been doing nonstop campaigning in these area's. He has done the kind of work Obama did during the primary campaign against Hillary. I don't see the entry of Mr. Greene as an issue for Meek, because the people who know and have met him, like him and are not changing. Those people, like me will be voting in the primary. I do see a good thing in Mr. Greene entry, that is a highlighted dem primary. The one thing I am worried about is Mr. Greene tarnishing Meek's name in time for the general election, or causing Meek to use his well needed funds to defend himself against the attacks of Greene. If this happen the general election becomes much harder to win. But Meek has the backing of the party apparatus, meaning Obama/Sink/State Party and all their GOTV efforts. So I really find it hard for Greene to win. One thing I have been annoyed by is the lack of support from places like Kos and others for Meek. He is solid progressive and has been fundraising madly! Hopefully with the entry of Greene, they really start stepping it up for Meek!

   Meek, I think, will win the general, if Greene doesn't go negative in the primary. Like I said before, he has done amazing grassroots work and has targeted typically gop strongholds, such as Duval County. That county was his biggest contributor to his brilliant signature drive. As many have pointed out before, independents are only really 15 to 20% OF THE VOTE HERE IN FL. So the real thing is getting the bigger base out. After 2008, the Democrats have the apparatus, money and more voters to do that. Meek just has to focus on them to really poll this off. Crist won't attract independents and will probably get below 10% splitting them with Meek and Rubio. Crist will pull more of the moderate gop from Rubio than pull the moderate democrats from Meek. That is why I think Meek is gonna win. Meek will be well funded and have the backing of our party's leaders and core members. That will bring it home with 35% to 40% of the vote.

   If Greene wins, with his money, I think that he will have to track the same path to win. I want Meek, but with Greene's money, he is very attractive! What can I say, I have a thing for old guys with money! lol! 

   Anyway, thats my analysis and I hope I have given y'all some insight into how use FL democrats are feeling right now.

Meek 2010

by boxer4hrc 2010-04-30 06:35AM | 0 recs
RE: I'm in for Meek!

I see your point about media focus on a Democratic primary helping Meek, but I consider it extremely likely that Greene will go negative and force Meek to spend a lot of cash before September.

I was impressed that the Meek campaign collected 130K signatures to qualify for the ballot.

by desmoinesdem 2010-04-30 10:12AM | 0 recs
RE: I'm in for Meek!

In a three way race, the key for Meek will be turnout in South Florida.  The I-4 Corridor I don't think will be as crucial for Meek as it usually is.


Disclosure - I love in Tampa.

by fladem 2010-04-30 12:27PM | 0 recs
RE: I'm in for Meek!

What I haven't figured out, and what FL residents can hopefully enlighten me on, is that even though dems have a large registration edge over the GOP in the state how the FL legislature gets more batsh*t crazy every year.

by vecky 2010-04-30 10:00PM | 0 recs
RE: I'm in for Meek!

Thanks for the outlook. If Meek hadn't voted for the bailouts, I'd be 100% for him. As far as I can tell too, he voted against the Bush wars to begin with, but funding them still.

by Jerome Armstrong 2010-05-03 10:27PM | 0 recs

Really deserves better than he has gotten thus far given his key role in the played in the Class Size Amendment.

I don't think much of Joe Trippi (who never really wins anything) but it impossible to ignore race when thinking about the Dem nomination race. Some of the reason that Meek has been written off I think is driven by skepticism that an African American can win the race (though I think he can).




by fladem 2010-04-30 12:25PM | 0 recs
A black man already won statewide in Florida

I think the biggest concern for me was that fact that Meek has never run in a competitive election, comes from an already Democratic area, and is running in a less Democratic year. His race just makes it more difficult.

by ND22 2010-05-01 02:33AM | 0 recs

It will be a tough road, but he's shown a lot more than I thought.

The bailout vote is a minus, but I think he's a hard worker.  I thought his trip to Haiti was a plus, and it got him some name recognition.

by esconded 2010-04-30 02:28PM | 0 recs


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