Squeezed between a newly independent Gov. Charlie Crist and an aggressive new Democratic rival in the U.S. Senate race, Kendrick Meek faces unexpected and formidable foes in the fight for Florida's biggest pot of Democratic voters: Broward County.
With its 544,000 registered Democrats, Broward looms as a battleground and one of the Miami congressman's biggest challenges as he tries to move out of third place behind Crist and Republican Marco Rubio.
Sprawling retirement condominiums, where voters like to size up candidates running for sheriff, the governor's mansion and the White House over marble cake and coffee, represent political ground zero in Broward.
Meek's new Democratic opponent, real estate investor Jeff Greene, already beat him to the punch by securing a speaking spot tomorrow at the voter-rich Kings Point development in Tamarac. Greene barely registers in the polls but launched a "substantial'' statewide television campaign on Tuesday.
Meantime, the glad-handing governor is already well known in Broward. Asked last week how Crist thought he'd fare with the condo crowd, the longtime St. Petersburg renter quipped: "I live in a condo!''
Political activists like to joke that Broward Democrats are so partisan that they wouldn't vote for a Republican for dog catcher. But now that Crist no longer has an "R'' next to his name, some Democrats say they are considering the familiar and politically moderate governor over Meek, the likely Democratic nominee.
"I never met Rep. Meek until I went to Washington last month to lobby on behalf of Broward County,'' said Mayor Ken Keechl, one of a handful of prominent Broward Democrats who have yet to endorse Meek. "There are a number of Democrats who have said to me, 'I don't know this guy, and I think Charlie can be considered a Democrat.' ''
Full story here. Also, Politico reports that Meek talked to Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman -- once an immensely popular figure in the Broward condos -- last month. An even more powerful surrogate for Meek in Broward would be former President Bill Clinton, who has hosted a number of fundraisers for the congressman.