At a time when the Florida electorate is growing increasingly diverse, the Republican party is gearing up to field an all-male, all-white slate in 2010.
In contrast, the Democratic front-runners for the top of the ticket are U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, a 42-year-old African American running for the U.S. Senate, and Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink for governor, who would be the state's first female chief executive. A handful of Hispanic and Jewish Democrats are potentially in the mix for attorney general and chief financial officer.
''It's something I see as an advantage for Florida voters, that the Democratic ticket could end up looking like it represents Florida's population,'' said Ana Cruz, a top Meek advisor.
The Republican front-runners for statewide office include Gov. Charlie Crist for Senate, Attorney General Bill McCollum for governor, Senate President Jeff Atwater for chief financial officer and U.S. Rep. Adam Putnam for agriculture commissioner. Putnam is the only one of the GOP candidates under 50 years old.
"We are the party of recruiting the best candidates based on qualifications not on race. That explains our success over the years,'' said Carlos Curbelo, chairman of the state party's Hispanic Leadership Council."And still, we have elected a Hispanic U.S. senator, three members of Congress, and dozens of state legislators to public office. Compare that to the Democrats' record, and there is no comparison."
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