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The week that separates the real candidates from the wanna-bes

To the certainties in life that include death and taxes, add this: by Friday, Gov. Charlie Crist will decide whether to run as an independent, a Republican or not at all for the U.S. Senate in 2010.

Former House Speaker Marco Rubio plans to make his Republican bid official at 10 a.m. tomorrow in Cooper Park in his hometown of West Miami. The other major candidate, Democratic U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek of Miami, already qualifed for the ballot by collecting more than 125,000 voter signatures, instead of the traditional method of paying a fee.

It will be interesting to see if Democratic longshots like former Miami Mayor Maurice Ferre and former North Miami Mayor Kevin Burns go through with it and actually qualify for the ballot. Republican Sen. Bob Smith of New Hampshire, now of Florida, ended his underdog Senate campaign last month.

The other federal race to watch this week is in Meek's soon-to-be former congressional district. Will all 11 Democrats -- and 1 Republican -- who have opened campaign accounts take the plunge? 

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