Kendrick Meek Wants Dems to Come Home in Senate Race’s Final Days

Miami Democrat insists he's ahead of Charlie Crist in spite of polls
By: Gray Rohrer | Posted: October 22, 2010 12:31 PM
Kendrick Meek in White

Rep. Kendrick Meek

Bringing up the rear in a three-way race for U.S. Senate, Kendrick Meek, the Democratric U.S. representative from Miami, is not giving up the fight with little more than a week to go before Election Day.

At a press conference Friday in Tallahassee, Meek indicated he will come out swinging in the next debate, to be held Sunday and hosted by CNN and the St. Petersburg Times.

“This debate on Sunday is going to be verbally eventful,” Meek said.

A Rasmussen poll released earlier this week showed Republican nominee Marco Rubio holding a large lead heading into final days of the election. According to the poll, Rubio is leading among likely voters with 43 percent, while Gov. Charlie Crist -- who is running as an independent -- has 32 percent. Meek is polling at 20 percent.

Despite the deficit, Meek insists he is ahead of Crist and can overtake Rubio.

“I think I’m the only candidate that can dethrone Marco Rubio from the lead position in this race, because I’m true blue,” Meek said. “I just know that I am ahead. I know that I’m ahead among Democrats, and I’ll always be ahead among Democrats, because I’m the Democrat in the race,” he added.

As the campaign winds down, Meek’s strategy is to attack Crist as a flip-flopper who has no real principles, attack Rubio as a “dangerous” extremist, and hope Democrats flock to the party line on Nov. 2.

To that end, Meek highlighted the differences between himself and Crist, noting his stalwart Democratic positions on issues like the environment, abortion, offshore oil drilling, and protecting Social Security.

“Charlie Crist and Marco Rubio are pretending they are going to protect Social Security,” Meek said. “There’s videos of Charlie Crist standing next to Sarah Palin and John McCain as they yell ‘drill, baby, drill,’” he added.

Crist’s independent campaign has tried to make the case that he is above party politics and not beholden to special interests for either side, but Meek insists the former Republican is merely Rubio-lite, and that any vote for Crist is a vote for Rubio.

“Democrats have to make the decision, because if we’re going to split the vote it’s going to push Marco Rubio to the Senate. Eighty-five percent of Republicans are behind Marco Rubio; Democrats just have to make a decision,” Meek said.

Some Democrats have noted that Crist’s and Meek’s combined support is more than the 50 percent threshold and most voters want someone other than Rubio, and have suggested either Crist or Meek drop out of the race. Meek has resisted such calls so far and considers it a moot point now that Election Day is so near and many ballots have already been made and votes already cast.

“The whole thing about the governor getting out of the race or me getting out of the race is no longer a question. There’s already 1 million votes that have been cast,” Meek said.

Still, Meek realizes he’s behind in the race and sees the remaining debates as a good opportunity to gain ground.

“Marco Rubio needs to strap on his chin strap on Sunday,” Meek said, referring to his days as a linebacker for Florida A&M, one of his favorite arrows in his quiver of campaign rhetoric.



Reach Gray Rohrer at grohrer@sunshinestatenews.com or at (850) 727-0859

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