Dark Horse Kevin Burns Looks to Upset Meek

Former North Miami mayor running for Senate
By: Kevin Derby | Posted: April 29, 2010 11:35 AM
A day after former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre did the same thing, former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns on Thursday morning filed the necessary paperwork in Tallahassee for his Democratic primary campaign for U.S. Senate.

Burns is an underdog to defeat U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, the leading candidate in the field, but Burns is unfazed. He pointed out that a year and a half ago, it was supposedly impossible to beat Gov. Charlie Crist on the Republican side of the race, yet Marco Rubio is now doing just that. Burns also said that Meek had spent more than $2.5 million and is still polling poorly.

Burns has attracted more than $20,000 to his campaign, but he has also loaned it $70,000 in personal money -- a fraction of the millions Meek has raised and the $3.7 million he had in his war chest at the end of March.

“We still have the money we need to fundraise,” insisted Burns.

Burns was optimistic about the impact he can make in the race, noting that as an outsider he may be able to tap into voter discontent.

“People are aggravated with both parties,” said Burns. “I’m not a career politician.”

Burns said his experience as a mayor and as a businessman will help make him a good senator. “I’m ready to go to Washington with shovel-ready projects to get things done,” he said.

Burns said he has something of a background in international affairs. He said he had visited Haiti six times in the last three years and will be visiting again in the near future. He also pointed out that North Miami has one of the largest Haitian communities outside of Haiti.

Burns talked about his international travels and experience, including his time with international cultural and musical act Up with People and a recent tour of Israel with an interfaith group when he met the mayor of Jerusalem.  “I’m well-versed in international affairs,” Burns said.

Burns also stressed his opposition to offshore oil drilling and his calls to develop alterative sources of power.

Burns will be hitting the trail hard the rest of the week, campaigning in Volusia and St. Johns counties. 

Despite Burns’ and Ferre’s efforts, Democrats are increasingly portraying Meek as their Senate candidate. Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen Thurman released an email on Thursday morning praising Meek.

“Floridians are learning what we in the Florida Democratic Party have known for a long time: Kendrick Meek will be Florida's next U.S. senator,” wrote Thurman. “He is working hard every day to fight for Florida's future and already had hundreds of thousands of Floridians supporting his campaign.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or (850) 727-0859.

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